ORLANDO, FLORIDA, February 03 — Fiona O’Keeffe! That’s right, the 25-year-old Stanford grad making her marathon debut was the runaway winner of the Orlando Olympic Trials race in 2:22:10. O’Keeffe surged away from the field at 18 miles to negative split (71:43/70:27) her stunning win, bettering Shalane Flanagan’s 2012 Trials record by 3:28.
American Record-holder Emily Sisson ran her way onto the Olympic team for Paris with a strong 2:22:42 (71:44/70:58) effort. Dakotah Lindwurm was the second-biggest surprise of the day taking 3rd in 2:25:31.
“It is so meaningful,” O’Keeffe beamed. “The past couple of years I’ve been kind of clawing my way through things, and I was not expecting this performance.”
Indeed, few outside her immediate circle believed in the debutante, or for that matter Lindwurm (T&FN had them pegged for 5th and 9th).
While Sisson is very much a well-known athlete, O’Keeffe and Lindwurm took to the high-profile stage of the Olympic Trials to resoundingly introduce themselves.
O’Keeffe was a two-time California cross champ as a prep and went on to a solid collegiate career at Stanford highlighted by the 2019 Pac-10 cross title and a 3rd-place finish in the 2019 NCAA Indoor 5000 (15:37.61).
Her professional career has taken off under the direction of Alistair and Amy Cragg and their Puma Running Elite team based in Raleigh, North Carolina, though O’Keeffe prepped for the Trials in Albuquerque.
Last February O’Keeffe ran a ran a 15:01.34 PR followed by a 30:52.77 10,000 best last May after running 30:57 in March. Her last race heading into the Trials was a cold weather 70:45 effort, finishing 13th at the BAA Half in November.
One thing for sure is that O’Keeffe does very well in her road debuts be it her then-U.S. debut record in her Trials qualifying 67:42 half marathon in Houston in ’22, or her most significant previous road win, a 51:42 10-mile debut later that same year at the USA Champs race in the Twin Cities.
The 28-year-old Lindwurm was a hockey goalie in high school and developed as a runner at Div. II Northern State in Aberdeen, South Dakota. In 2018 Lindwurm joined the Minnesota Distance Elite Team and under the direction of Chris Lundstrom made steady progress through her dozen marathons, bettering 2:30 for the…