Bellingham distance runner Courtney Olsen, a graduate of Squalicum High School and Western Washington University, qualified for the U.S. Olympic marathon trials with her performance at the California International Marathon Sunday in Sacramento, California.
Olsen was the 32nd female runner to complete the 26.2-mile course, running a personal best time of 2 hours, 42 minutes, 44 seconds – 16 seconds below the USA Track and Field “B” qualifying standard for the 2020 trials, which will be held at a date and location to be determined. She averaged a 6:13-mile over the entire course, including 6:03 per mile over the final 10 kilometers.
Olsen, who is president of the Bellingham Distance Project and works at Peace Health St. Joseph’s as a film librarian, won the Bellingham Bay Marathon in September with a course-record time of 2:46:35, narrowly missing the Olympic trials qualifying mark. But she got it Sunday.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Olsen said Tuesday. “I have been trying with a friend and teammate, Amber Morrison. We just missed out barely for 2016 trials. They opened qualifying (for the 2020 trials) in September, and she and I have both gone for it – this is our second attempt this year, already.”
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Olsen said Morrison plans to make another attempt at qualifying in Grandma’s Marathon, which is scheduled for June 16 in Duluth, Minnesota.
“It’s so exciting,” Olsen said. “I’ll be pulling for my teammate. ... Hopefully we can get a few Bellingham women qualified and all go there and make Bellingham proud.”
Olsen made the area proud last weekend, thanks in part to her “normal” pre-race meal of a full pizza and some wine two days before the race, even though “some people tell me they think that wouldn’t work out too well.”
The race also provided a pacer, Olsen said, which she utilized for about three-quarters of the race.
“The weather was perfect – in the high 40s and blue skies,” Olsen said. “The course was just magical. I think over 100 men and women qualified.”