TOKYO — Molly Seidel has done it again.
After a stunning performance to qualify for Team USA, Seidel ran another gutsy race Saturday, hanging with the lead pack and holding on to win bronze in the Olympic marathon in Sapporo, Japan. It was just the third marathon Seidel, 27, has ever run.
Seidel crossed the finish line third in 2:27:46 on a muggy morning in Sapporo, where officials moved the start time of the race up by one hour to avoid the heat. Kenyans Peres Jepchirchir and Brigid Kosgei finished first and second, respectively.
Seidel, who splits her time between Boston and Flagstaff, Arizona, becomes just the third American woman to ever medal in the women’s marathon. Joan Benoit won gold in the event in 1984, and Deena Kastor took bronze in 2004.
It’s an incredible accomplishment for a four-time NCAA champion in cross country in track, for whom the marathon is still a relatively unfamiliar distance.
“She’s running with experience that she, quite frankly, doesn’t have,” NBC analyst Kara Goucher said during Saturday’s broadcast.
Fellow American Sally Kipyego finished 17th. Aliphine Tuliamuk, who won Olympic trials, dropped out of the race about halfway through, with her team citing an injury in a post on social media.
A Wisconsin native who ran collegiately at Notre Dame, Seidel grew up running 5k and 10k races before giving the marathon a try. She qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials in Atlanta with a half-marathon time from Dec. 2019, then proceeded to finish a shocking second at trials in her marathon debut.
Seidel continued training when the Olympics were postponed for one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and finished sixth in the London Marathon, which was held for elites only in October.
Contributing: Jeff Metcalfe