Molly Seidel Wins Bronze at Women’s Marathon


At 30 kilometers, or 18.6 miles, Seidel ran ahead of nine runners as the course was overshadowed. According to the NBC telecast, the temperature on the asphalt was over 100 degrees. Even some of the best runners who faced the worst heat began to stagger. Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, who won the 2019 world marathon championship in brutal conditions in Doha, Qatar, where the temperature was still 90 degrees at midnight, fell to the ground and started walking.

At 20 mph, the group fell to seven contestants, then five contestants, then four contestants who would decide three medals. NBC showed a note that Seidel wrote in fourth grade: “I wish I could have entered the Olympics and won a gold medal.”

At 23 mph, Jepchirchir and Kosgei began to drift away. Another contender, Israeli Chemtai Salpeter, was unable to continue as he tried to win the country’s first medal in track and field. Seidel had bronze if he could stand it.

With about a mile and a half remaining, Jepchirchir, the world record holder of 1:05:16 in the half marathon in a women’s race, began to drift away from Kosgei. Kosgei, who broke the world record with 2:14:04 at the 2019 Chicago Marathon, started to shake.

Early in the race, Jepchirchir had run the miles with a bottle of liquid tucked into his shirt to keep a tank of carbs ready. Approaching the finish, it looked like a small bag of ice from his athlete. He smiled at the bowl, then bent down and seemed to pray.

It was her second consecutive Olympic marathon victory for a Kenyan woman. But 2016 winner Jemima Sumgong is now on duty 8 years for doping. Jepchirchir’s victory is seen as a matter of salvation and a hopeful display of restored integrity.

Seidel clenched his fists, pointed to the “USA” on his jersey, and screamed as he neared the finish. He had never run a marathon until the 2020 Olympic trials. Saturday was his third. But he had run wisely, confidently, and patiently in terrible conditions. And now he was an Olympic medalist.


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