The Marathon Project Results – Sara Hall Runs Second-Fastest Marathon in American History


  • At The Marathon Project in Chandler, Arizona, Sara Hall set a personal best, running 2:20:32 to win the race. She was on pace to top Deena Kastor’s American record—2:19:36—but fell off in the second half.
  • Keira D’Amato and Kellyn Taylor finished second and third respectively, running 2:22:56 and 2:25:22.
  • On the men’s side, Martin Hehir won the race in 2:08:59, good enough for seventh on the all-time list of American marathoners. Noah Droddy finished second in 2:09:09, putting him ninth all-time.

    On a 2.1-mile stretch of flat road in the desert, with the occasional cactus in the median strip outnumbering the spectators, a group of elite marathoners—48 men and 40 women—tried to salvage what they could of a racing season cut short by a pandemic.

    The conditions at The Marathon Project in Chandler, Arizona, were just about perfect: no wind, temperatures at the start in the high 30s, and a strong cadre of pacesetters leading two groups of men and four groups of women. And the results rewrote the American all-time marathon lists.

    Complete results of The Marathon Project

    Sara Hall, the favorite to win the women’s race, asked for pacesetters to take her through the halfway mark in 1:09:40, to put her on pace to break Deena Kastor’s American marathon record of 2:19:36, set in 2006. Hall, 37, went through in 1:09:38 and looked to be comfortable. Not only that, she had company from Kellyn Taylor, who hit the halfway mark with Hall.

    Soon thereafter, though, Taylor drifted back, and it was just Hall behind two male pacers for the remaining 4.26-mile loops of the course, up one side of the road and back down the other, with roundabouts at either end.

    Just after halfway, as the miles clicked off, Hall began to slow ever so slightly, her average pace falling from the 5:19 per mile she needed to break Kastor’s record to 5:20 pace, then 5:21 pace.

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    She finished in 2:20:32, putting her second-fastest on the list of American marathoners. She took almost 90 seconds off her previous PR of 2:22:01, which she ran only 11 weeks ago at the London Marathon. Hall averaged 5:22 per mile for the full 26.2.

    “It’s been tough with so few races, so I’m so grateful that they were able to put this together for us,” Hall said in an interview on USATF.tv after the race. “It was a tough race. I was hoping to run a little faster than that, but it’s a good PR and number two all time in the U.S. I should be happy with that. The competitor in me is a little bit like, ahh. I wanted to run faster, but maybe next time.”

    Taylor, who had used the opportunity of this unusual race to run aggressively and see how long she would last, was reeled in around the 22-mile mark by Keira D’Amato, a realtor and mother of two from northern Virginia, who has had a year of impressive personal bests, largely in time trial races.

    D’Amato, 36, finished in 2:22:56. She leaps to seventh on the all-time Americans list. In so doing, she took nearly 12 minutes off her previous marathon personal best, which was 2:34:24. She set that mark in February, at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, where she finished in 15th place.

    Taylor, 34, hung on for third in 2:25:22. Emma Bates was fourth in 2:25:40 and Canadian Natasha Wodak was sixth in 2:26:19.

    It’s a testament to Kastor that her record has stood for more than 14 years, even as a deeper crop of talented women, benefitting from greatly improved shoe technology, keep taking swings at it.

    the marathon project

    Martin Hehir breaks the tape in just his third marathon.

    Kevin Morris

    On the men’s side, Martin Hehir, 28, in his fourth year of medical school in Philadelphia and applying to residency programs in anesthesiology, was the winner in 2:08:59. He led seven American men under 2:10, making it the deepest men’s marathon in U.S. history.

    Hehir pushed the pace between miles 22 and 23 and opened up a lead of several meters over Noah Droddy. Hehir grimaced through the final stretch, but dipped under the 2:09 mark, putting him seventh on the list of U.S. all time marathoners. It was a two-and-a-half minute personal best for him in only his third marathon.

    “It felt pretty smooth for most of the race,” he said on camera at the finish. “The pacing was amazing. It was pretty easy to sit on Frank [Lara] and Mason [Ferlic] and let them do all the work. I started to fall apart in the last couple of miles there, but I was able to hold it together.”

    Droddy, 30, finished second in 2:09:09, also an enormous personal record. (His previous best was 2:11:42 at the 2019 Chicago Marathon.)

    His mid-back-length hair makes him instantly recognizable in any pack of runners, and he’s been a fan favorite ever since the camera caught him at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, noticeable among his clean-cut competitors. On Sunday, the cameras captured Droddy vomiting immediately after he finished.

    Colin Bennie, who, like Hehir, is part of the Reebok Boston Track Club in Charlottesville, Virginia, was third in 2:09:38.

    Both Hehir and Bennie went to Syracuse University and were part of the cross-country team that won the national title in 2015 under coach Chris Fox, who coaches them currently. Hehir goes to Virginia every few months to train with the team when he has breaks from medical school.

    The prize money was modest for this popup marathon: $5,000 for first, $2,000 for second, and $1,000 for third. But the sponsored runners in the field likely earned bonuses from their shoe companies—Asics in the case of Hall, Reebok for Hehir, Saucony for Droddy—for cracking certain times. In what seems to be an oversight by the major brands, D’Amato is unsponsored.

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