U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials Start Time Debacle Timeline

By Chris Chavez

November 8, 2023

We are just three months away from the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, the event that will determine who will represent the United States in the marathon at the 2024 Paris Olympics. However, we still aren’t certain what time those races will kick off. The Trials have been a topic of much controversy in recent weeks as many of the country’s top marathoners have voiced their discontent and concerns about the noon start time and potential heat in Orlando, Florida.

Here’s how we got to this point:

Nov. 8, 2022 – The 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials were awarded to Orlando by USA Track and Field and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Aug. 1, 2023 – The city of Orlando, Track Shack, the Greater Orlando Sports Commission, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, and USA Track and Field unveiled the route for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials marathon. It was also announced the Trials would be held on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, with the men’s race starting at 12:10 p.m. and the women’s race getting under way at 12:20 p.m.

Sept. 18, 2023 – 84 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifiers and notable American distance runners sent a letter to USATF CEO Max Siegel raising concerns over the noon start time.

Oct. 23, 2023 – USATF staff, including Siegel, met with Athlete Advisory Committee members Jared Ward, Will Leer and Emma Grace Hurley, to discuss possible options to move the trials start time to an earlier slot. Ward discussed the conversation with USATF on an appearance on The CITIUS MAG Podcast.

Oct. 21, 2023 – The USATF Athletes Advisory Committee sent a letter to Jason Siegel, the president and CEO of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission. In the letter, the athletes noted that USATF and NBC, which will carry the race broadcast, have agreed to a 10 a.m. start time for the race but GO Sports has been unwilling to make the change. The letter, which was shared on Twitter by Kyle Merber, noted that GO Sports was anticipating “a combination of unexplained projected damages, fines and waived rights fees totaling $700,000” if the race was moved.

Nov. 1, 2023 – Track Shack Events’ Jon and Betsy Hughes responded with their own letter to the USATF Athletes Advisory Committee.

They wrote:

“In September, we were blindsided by the suggestion that USATF was considering a new start time. Without our knowledge, USATF’s ‘non-negotiable’ Noon start time was suddenly being negotiated by USATF. Unfortunately, we were not looped into any of these discussions until October 13, ten weeks after our August 1st press conference. This lack of cooperative communication and transparency has forced the LOC to cancel attendance and hospitality agreements, which crippled sponsorship and ticket sales due to a lack of clarity on what we can offer our local stakeholders.

In an effort to rectify the situation, the Orlando LOC did not suggest reducing prize money or travel assistance for the athletes. Our only request is for USATF and USOPC to come to the table to negotiate the massive loss of revenue that a new start time and tape-delayed broadcast create. Especially since these factors were all critical and material components of the original agreement - to stage the Marathon on live TV. Their response has been to circulate a one-sided narrative while ignoring our concerns.

The athlete experience and athlete safety are and have always been our top priority. This is the reason we were open to a time change from day one. Had USATF and USOPC been open to a change earlier on as we were, the financial structure would have never been so inextricably tied to the Noon start.

That said, and Jared Ward was made aware of it last Friday, we have proposed an 8:00 a.m. start time.”

Nov. 8, 2023 – Runner’s World reports that USATF and GO Sports have not yet signed their contract to host the Trials.

Nov. 15, 2023USATF announces the start time has been moved to 10 a.m. ET.

Chris Chavez

Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.