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Nathan Martin’s 2:11:05 At The Marathon Project Is The Fastest Marathon By A Black Man Born In The United States


“It comes back to what I want to make sure I’m doing: Serving others. It’s not to say that I could go out to Flagstaff, crank it hard and make it to the Olympics and inspire a whole bunch of people. When I see opportunities in front of me to be able to coach and directly impact kids, that’s what I’m going to gravitate more toward. I could say, ‘You know what…I have to use this talent while I have it to generate more money or guarantee I can make it to the Olympics or have a much better shot.’ But I don’t want to go out and do that feeling like I left an opportunity to truly help people behind or truly impact people who might need me.”

Nathan Martin is a two-time U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier who finished 23rd at the trials in Los Angeles and the 69th on the super tough course and the windy conditions of Atlanta earlier this year. His personal best coming into Sunday’s race at The Marathon Project was 2:14:34. He knocked that out of the park by running 2:11:05 to finish ninth overall. After the race, I received a tip to look into and I quickly learned that his time is now the fastest marathon clocked by a Black man born in the United States. The previous best was by Herman Atkins in 2:11:52 in 1979 in a marathon that was held in Eugene Oregon. The winner of that race was Tony Sandoval and Jeff Wells, who somehow tied for the win in 2:10:20 according to a post in the Ted Corbitt archives. Herm Atkins was the co-owner of a running store, a coach and a police officer in Everett, Washington. You can find some PRs from the track online for him so I was wondering a bit more about Nate and who he is. There were a couple of local news stories on him but I figured it was time to give him some more shine and learn about him and his breakout.

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Photos by Kevin Morris.

nathan martin the marathon project 2020 fastest marathon by a black man born in the united states


“Being able to connect with kids is what I truly enjoy. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy running a crazy amount but I enjoy way more how I can use that to inspire the next generation.”

“(My coach) said to me, ‘Hey I think if you wanted to go for it, you could stay with that 2:09 group.’ That definitely was the plan. It ended up not working out quite as well as I hoped but we were confident that if I had a great day then there was no reason I couldn’t have gone under sub-2:10. That was kind of our focus. We went 2:11, which is obviously not a bad day but we knew we could race with the top guys if we got the opportunity to.”


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