Tokyo Medalists Molly Seidel And Daniel Romanchuk Look To Shine At The New York City Marathon
by Rich Sands
Molly Seidel reacts after winning the bronze medal in the women's marathon final at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 7, 2021 in Sapporo, Japan.
NEW YORK – After winning bronze medals in Japan this summer, marathoners Molly Seidel and Daniel Romanchuk are looking to put exclamation points on their incredible seasons at the TCS New York City Marathon.
The 50th running of the iconic road race will be held Sunday, Nov. 7, after being cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seidel arrives in the Big Apple as the latest in a long line of American women's distance-running stars. She ran a courageous race in the oppressive heat of Sapporo, Japan, on Aug. 7 to claim an unexpected bronze in the 26.2-mile footrace at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Since that breakthrough performance, the 27-year-old Wisconsin native has seen her popularity soar. And she's working hard to manage the accompanying expectations.
"I just go out, I train hard, I do what I can do, and I think everybody else tries to glean information from that or creates storylines," Seidel said from Central Park on Thursday, where the professional athletes met with the media. "But I guess in my own head I know what I need to do and I'm gonna keep doing that. I'm not changing what I do just because I have a medal around my neck."
Not that it's been a smooth transition back into training, especially with just three months between the Olympics and New York. In a recent Instagram post, Seidel wrote that, "This build has been so different from the others; much shorter, more painful and mentally tougher. Sometimes dealing with the weight of expectations is the hardest part…" On Thursday she cited "mental exhaustion" and declined to elaborate any further, but promised to offer more details after Sunday's race.
Despite the less-than-ideal build-up, Seidel is savoring the chance to finally experience the New York City Marathon, where her running heroes like Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan have shined. She was in the city to race the 2017 USA Track & Field 5K championships the day before the marathon and stuck around to see Flanagan's historic win that year up close.
"That was such an impactful moment for my career, seeing that an American woman can go out and be at the top of the world stage," Seidel said. "In my mind, it was like, wow, that can happen. And it was so inspiring for me." (Flanagan will be racing with the masses on Sunday, closing out her daunting "Project Eclipse" project, running all the World Marathon Majors in a six-week span.)
A four-time NCAA champion at Notre Dame, Seidel has enjoyed a quick journey to the top of the marathon world. She became an overnight sensation after finishing second at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in February 2020 in her debut at the distance, and she ran her personal best of 2:25:13 in London eight months later.
"You take this risk and you go into it and you don't know what a race is going to be," she said of the unpredictability of the marathon. "It could be great, but it could also really suck. … I'm just as surprised as anyone how these last three races have gone."
And while continuing that hot streak is important on Sunday (in a field that includes Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya), she's also aiming to enjoy the moment. "This has been a really cool year," she said. "We spent so much time building up for the Olympics, putting all of our chips in on that, that truthfully at this point I feel like everything after is, we get to do this for fun."
Rich Sands is a New York City-based freelance editor and writer and has been a correspondent for Track & Field News since 1995, covering the sport at the high school, college and professional levels. He was previously an editor at TV Guide Magazine, overseeing the magazine's Olympic coverage.