AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Marathon sets up perfectly before the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta at the end of February.
Local elite runner, Rory Tunningley, will be running the Austin Half Marathon Sunday “to blow out his legs one last time” and seize some advance scouting for the terrain ahead in Atlanta.
Tunningley is a former University of Texas runner making his second appearance at the United State Olympic Marathon Trials Feb. 29 in Atlanta, Georgia. He also competed at the trials in 2016.
Last time, in 2016, Tunningley said he was just happy to be there while this year he has grander aspirations.
Tunningley isn’t the only runner using Austin as a tune-up for the Olympic trials nor is he the only athlete that compared the hills of the Austin course to what the country’s best runners will face near downtown Atlanta.
Austin’s downtown course provides several elevation changes — similar to what downtown Atlanta’s landscape will provide.
Austinite David Fuentes is fresh off his first victory at Austin’s 3M Half Marathon. Fuentes has also qualified for the Olympic Trials and will be helping race officials on Sunday..
Fuentes is a master of his craft winning several Austin Half Marathons over his running career, but he’s staying realistic on his chances at the Olympic trials.
“Of course, I want to go out and compete and crush the competition, but it’s a little out of the realm,” Fuentes said on his outlook going into Atlanta’s trials.
To be fair, the odds of representing the United States are minute, even for this quality of athlete.
There will be over 500 women and over 200 men competing for the top three spots on the Olympic Marathon teams. Only the top three finishers for men and women will qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
Tunningley know he’s in the upper-echelon of runners, but it is even harder to break through into the truly highest class of marathoners. Although, he does believe he’s capable of reaching that level this year.
“Every time I race I try to think this could my day…the day where I run out of my mind,” Tunningley said.
The Austin Half Marathon will get Austin’s elite runners ready for their course to Atlanta — and potentially the Olympics.