Mantz, Young Run Oly Standard In Chicago

Conner Mantz and Galen Rupp (2nd in ’21) led U.S. entrants late into the Chicago Marathon but it was Clayton Young who joined fellow BYU alum Mantz in hitting the Olympic standard. (KEVIN MORRIS)

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, October 08 — In the wake of Kelvin Kiptum’s inspired WR-breaking run around the Windy City four US men chased the 2:08:10 Olympic standard at the Chicago Marathon. A trio of NCAA cross country champions — Sam Chelanga, Connor Mantz and Galen Rupp — ran with ’19 NCAA track 10K titlist Clayton Young through a 63:21 opening half and hung together through 30K in 1:30:03 — on 2:06:40 pace.

By 35K, (1:45:10, 2:06:47 pace) Mantz and Chelanga pulled ahead, even as their fast opening pace took a beating on the long homestretch into the wind. Two-time NCAA Cross winner Mantz held it together best, finishing 6th in a PR 2:07:47, tying Dathan Ritzenhein for No. 4 and No. 9 performance on the U.S. all-time list.

“I came through halfway feeling great,” said Mantz, who improved one place from his ’22 marathon debut in Chicago (2:08:16). “We had a nice group, but after 30K I was on my own. Then Sam caught up to me and was like a bouncing ball going back and forth before falling back.

“Then on the long straightaway I realized that I was really fading, crap is hitting the fan and there is no one in sight. I was worried I might give out like in the last mile of Boston [in April when Mantz dropped from well up in the lead group to 11th] so I was just glad that I could hold it together and hit the standard.”

Still feeling the sting of the closing kilometers, the 26-year-old reluctantly embraced his new PR, quipping, “2:07 sounds like I missed 2:06.”

Fellow BYU alum Young managed the finishing straight much better, crossing 8th in a PR 2:08:00, good for No. 7 U.S. all-time.

“I’ve been through the ringer in Chicago,” said, the 30-year-old Young, who placed 18th last year in 2:11:51. “In my first marathon I collapsed 300 meters from the finish (and straggled in at 2:16:07), and last year I faded at mile 22, so I finally figured it out and it motivates me going into the Trials.”

Rupp (8th in 2:08:48) and Chelanga (9th in 2:08:50, moving to No. 9 American all-time) saw their hopes of hitting the Paris qualifier dashed in the finishing headwind.

The near misses leave the veterans with a more precarious route through the Trials, but show that they are fully capable of running their way onto the team.

Rupp — bronze medalist at the 2016 Games in Rio and 8th in Tokyo — won the last two U.S. Trials races. Should he earn a third chance to represent the U.S. in the marathon, he will be 38 in Paris next summer.