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.