When I joined the Atlanta Track Club (ATC) for the 2020 season, I knew I wanted to support with the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trails. ATC won the competitive bid for the trials to be hosted in Atlanta and went to work on the logistics for a race with the country’s most elite marathoners. One main concern was how will they keep roughly 690 athletes hydrated on course. As one of the 530 volunteers who were part of the hydration solution for the duration for the marathon, I saw first-hand how big a task it was. Volunteers maned 60 tables with only 6 bottles a table for the first-tier qualified runners and 12 bottles for the second-tier qualified runners. Each bottle was uniquely decorated by its owner/elite runner so that it would be easy to identify during the race.
My table buddy and I took custody of 36 bottles for 12 female athletes around 10:30 am Saturday morning. After setting up our table exactly 10ft from the table in front of us (standard regulation distance), we evenly placed the uniquely decorated first lap bottles for our 12 athletes. At 12:08 pm the male heat of the marathon took off and the streets were crowded with spectators hoping to be the first to see all the action. We had been warned not to step out from behind the table because athletes were moving about 12 miles per hour and they wouldn’t be stopping. This seemed silly to me but as the women started coming through around 12:30 pm it was pure chaos. I didn’t even see the face of most of the individuals who swiped one of our bottles before they were gone. It was such a rush!
One athlete did stand out from the rest, a girl who had her water on the table next to us but was clearly running with the first-tier female pack. It was Molly Seidel who ended up earning a place on the 2020 US Olympic team by taking second in the trials on Saturday. I was so excited to see one of the “underdogs” end up taking a coveted team spot! The victory became that much sweeter when I later read her background story. Molly worked two jobs, shared an apartment with her sister, struggled with injuries and the trials were her marathon debut. Just being a part of the Olympic trial action was a privilege to me, but seeing Molly take second firsthand was absolutely inspiring. This amazing woman will be on my mind, along with anyone else who may face challenges, as I return to the track.