The Most Fun Facts From U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials Women’s Athlete Bios

By Kyle Merber

January 20, 2024

You know when a new season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette comes out and you try to go a little bit beyond looks so you read their bios online to make your first impression about that person? We have marathon running’s equivalent. Race organizers for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials have put together bios for many of the participants for the Feb. 3 race. Beyond just some of the basics like birthdays, professions, career highlights, high school and personal bests, these bios provide a few more insights into the people who make up the majority of the field. A minority of them are actual professional runners with contracts. Many balance busy days with full-time jobs and family obligations.

Here are some of the best facts and tidbits from gleaning some of the women’s entries:

Amanda Phillips' Interesting Story:

This is more like a running public service announcement. I recently ran into an aggressive mama elk and spent a couple minutes trying to get away including hiding behind trees, being chased and finally warding it off with a giant branch. I thought I was going to get trampled to death. I've also experienced running into an open grazing space for mama cows and their babies who then, as a herd, decided to chase me up a mountain. All in all, don't mess with mamas. Also, if you're running somewhere during the springtime in the forest, don't wear headphones. In fact, maybe just stay on the roads during birthing season. Cow mamas, elk mamas or bear mamas, it doesn't matter. None of them like runners sneaking up on their babies. So be aware!

This is just good to know!

Caroline Williams' Interesting Story:

My journey to the start line of the 2024 Trials has been a 7-year endeavor, full of near-misses and unfortunate setbacks. During the 2016 cycle, I narrowly missed the qualifying time in the half marathon by 35 seconds, running 1:15:35. I then ran 2:45:26 in my first marathon in 2018, missing the qualifying mark again, by 26 seconds. Injury and illness thwarted other attempts in the lead-up to 2020. Finally, after 18 months of healthy running, I hit my OTQ at CIM in 2022, qualifying by just 3 seconds in a nail-biting finish. All this to say, keep showing up!

(Husband Eddie Mulder is also running!)

Heather KampfHeather Kampf

Kevin Morris / @KevMoFoto

Heather Kampf's Previous Trials:

2008 (800m), 2012 (800/1500m), 2016 (1500m), 2021 (1500m)

I have to link to this race again.

Gabriella Rooker's Interesting Story:

I grew up as a competitive gymnast and competed through college. After college, I sampled different sports and found a new love for competition in running. I started training seriously in 2019 and enlisted the help of my husband, Alex, to coach me. I used the pandemic as a time to increase my volume and have more-consistent interval sessions. I ran my first marathon in 2021 and set a goal to hit the OTQ standard in 2022. Since then, I have continued to move the needle and focus on getting as strong and fast as I can. Throughout my training, I have continued to work full-time as a physician assistant. Recently, I dropped down to part-time work to allow me to train for the Olympic Trials.

Can anyone else in the field do a floor routine?

Gabriella RookerGabriella Rooker

Kevin Morris / @KevMoFoto

Hailey Bowes' Interesting Story:

Once, in college, I heard there was a black bear rumored to be on one of my team's hilliest routes. Being the animal lover I am, I tricked everyone into running that route every other day for a week in hopes to find the bear. Sadly, I never saw the bear but I did give us all a hell of an elevation training week ... I did the same thing a month later hoping to see a bobcat.

Remind me never to go on a run with her…

Isabel and Monica Hebner's Family:

My twin sister (Monica Hebner) will be running at Trials alongside me!!


Jennifer Pope's Interesting Story:

I trained for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in 2022 and missed the qualifying time by only 15 seconds. I had GPS errors throughout the race and didn't do simple math to ensure I would finish under 2:37. My average page (according to the inaccurate watch) was well under the needed pace to qualify, so I kept the pace steady instead of pushing at the end. I assumed I had the time needed, especially since I was ahead of the pacers and OTQ pack (which apparently all dropped out instead). Lesson learned: don't count on the watch, or other pacers and runners! Do simple math!

Lots of lessons to be learned from this one!

Julia GriffeyJulia Griffey

Kevin Morris / @KevMoFoto

Julia Griffey's Favorite Running Memory:

2020 US Olympic Team Trials is a favorite because I placed 10th, but also because it was the day my now-husband proposed to me at the finish with 50 of my friends and family members there to celebrate. Also a favorite was winning the Twin Cities race in 2019 because I ran step for step with my coach at the time. My coach was also a good friend and we had shared many miles together over the years, so for both of us to PR, me to win and him hugging me at the finish was a pretty great memory.

How do you one up that this Trials?

Katie Kellner Interesting Story:

In Sept 2019, while out on a training run, I saved a man and his dog who were drowning in the Chestnut Hill Reservoir in Boston, MA. Runner's World also wrote a story about this. Also, my teammate Caroline Williams and I both ran our first OTQs at the 2022 California International Marathon. The video of Caroline finishing, just below the standard, went viral on Instagram. Runner's World wrote a story about our OTQ journey and friendship.


Kir Selert's Interesting Story:

I once ran circles inside the Amsterdam Airport for an hour, in sneakers and last night’s going-out clothes. I was holding my luggage with my headphones plugged in. After I missed my flight, I briefly fainted and called my mom. She told me a run would make me feel better. She was right.

That's dedication to the craft!

Madison Offstein's Family:

My sister, Molly Offstein, and mother, Laura Brynes, are two of my biggest supporters! My running story starts with my mom. The founder of her high school’s track and field program for women in the late 80s in South Jersey, my mom was a multi-sport athlete who was later inducted into the Schalick High School Hall of Fame. I remember attending the ceremony with my sister and being inspired by how she advocated to get the program started, and what it meant to the young women who came after her. She also ran track at West Point and commissioned, athletically at the top of her class, as a Military Intelligence Officer in 1992. One of her career highlights was also working to assimilate women into the last collegiate institution to allow women - VMI in 1999.

My sister, age 26, lives at home with my mom. She suffered a severe TBI after being struck by a car while running, as a freshman and DI runner at Elon University in 2017. Molly was the most talented runner in the family. She is our high school-record holder in seven events between cross country and track, a three-time state champion in the 800, 1600, and 3200, and earned All-State accolades every year she competed. She was even selected as the Western Maryland Track Runner of the Year in 2015.

My mom recently opened a running store (Runners Wings) in our hometown to give back to the community that embraced and supported our family after Molly's accident. My stepdad, Keith Byrnes, is the Assistant Athletic Director and Head Men's Soccer Coach at Frostburg State University in my hometown. My dad, Evan Offstein, and stepmom, Rebecca Chory, are both professors in the Department of Management, also at Frostburg State. My partner, Jordan Allen, and our dog (a Sheltie named Cody), are my two running buddies for afternoon doubles in Michigan! I also want to give a shoutout to our high school track and cross country coach, Norm DeRosa, his wife, Patty, and their late daughter Katie - who taught me to always "run because I love it!"

Maggie MontoyaMaggie Montoya

Kevin Morris / @KevMoFoto

Maggie Montoya's Interesting Story:

After having done gymnastics for nearly a decade, I fall relatively frequently. I change my hair a lot. Sadly, probably most known for surviving at the King Sooper Shooting in Boulder on March 22, 2021.

Mimi Smith's Interesting Story:

Funny running related story: at NCAA East Track Regionals 2018, a couple of my teammates and I went back to the track after the meet was over to find any NCAA signs "laying around." While clearly snooping around, some gentleman approached us asking if we needed something, so I indulged and asked if we could take some of the signs. He didn't work for the NCAA (he worked for the hosting university), and figured why not. He even gave use his scissors to cut down the signs on the fences - how sweet of him! While we were removing a huge banner from one of the 13 ft. fences, we heard someone yell "STOP" on the opposite side of the track and the roar of the gator cart coming towards us (definitely someone who actually worked for the NCAA). I learned that night in the "fight or flight situation," I am for sure "flight" because I leaped over that fence and was on the other side before I even realized it.

Unfortunately, my teammate with me was neither a fighter or "flighter" and instead froze. After much yelling at her, we managed to somehow escape the track compound before they caught us. But the men on the gator decided to mess with us more, chasing us throughout the campus after switching their gator lights off, so we only could hear the engine chasing us. I'll never forget sprinting faster than I ever had in my life, hiding under a ramp at 12:00 a.m. (past curfew), holding my breath hearing the sound of the gator go back and forth. Our one teammate who had a car was able to locate us, and zoom us off campus without anyone being caught or our school being exposed.

I swear this exact thing happens at every NCAA meet.

Roberta Groner's Interesting Story:

I stopped running my senior year of college and did not run again for 10 years. I resumed when my youngest son was 2. At that point, it was just to get some daily exercise. I ran my first marathon in 2011 at Chicago and qualified for Boston with a 3:11. From that point on I knew I loved the challenge of the marathon. Through years of consistent training I was able to qualify for the Olympic Trials in 2020 with a qualifying time of 2:29:06. For the 2024 Olympic Trials, I am one of the masters runners, at age 46, to race. I am excited to race amongst the best in our nation and demonstrate that age is just a number!

A decade off and 46 years old!

Susanna SullivanSusanna Sullivan

Kevin Morris / @KevMoFoto

Susanna Sullivan's Interesting Story:

I made first Team USA for the World Championships in Budapest but got a patellar stress fracture (super rare) right before but didn't know it. Doctors said it was bursitis or tendonitis and if I could tolerate the pain, I wouldn't be making it worse. I finished the marathon on a broken kneecap. It took all fall (swimming a ton!!) to recover. I teach 6th-grade math and science and this is my 10th year teaching. I'm also a volunteer assistant coach with George Mason University, where my coach is the head of the track and field/cross country programs.


So many good stories! I swear half the field has children and a doctorate degree. Also, agents shouldn't be allowed to fill these out for their athletes

Kyle Merber

After hanging up his spikes – but never his running shoes – Kyle pivoted to the media side of things, where he shares his enthusiasm, insights, and experiences with subscribers of The Lap Count newsletter, as well as viewers of CITIUS MAG live shows.