A runner has become the second-oldest woman to ever qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials at 50 years old.
Molly Friel, from Fresno, California, has been an avid runner for over three decades.
Friel previously qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2004 and 2016. However, her recent achievement has proven that age is just a number when it comes to chasing your aspirations.
Friel attained her qualifying time at the California International Marathon, which took place on December 3 last year.
She accomplished a remarkable time of 2:43:57, averaging a six-minute-15-second mile pace throughout the race.
The time she needed to beat in order to qualify was 2:45, meaning that Friel crossed the line with over a minute to spare.
The oldest woman to ever qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials was Sister Marion Irvine, qualifying for the 1984 Olympic Marathon Trials aged 54.
However, back then the qualifying time for the first ever women’s US Olympic Marathon Trials was 2:51:16.
The impact of the women’s US Olympic Marathon Trials in 1984 was momentous, sparking a rise in the number of women taking up running as a sport.
Ian Torrence, Friel’s coach, explained that she has the mental tenacity to overcome any obstacle in her way.
“She’s got grit, you know?” he told Runner’s World. “She knows how to push through the pain.”
No matter how determined Friel is to reach her goals, she had to put in a lot of hard work in order to be where she is today.
During her training for the California International Marathon, Friel would sometimes run between 90 and 100 miles per week, with her longest distance before the big day reaching 24 miles.
While Friel has many years of experience preparing for races, that doesn’t stop the nerves from creeping in.
“I get pretty worked up,” she said. “That hasn’t changed. I’ve been like that since I was 20.”
However, the joy that Friel takes from running makes all the blood, sweat and tears worth it in the end.
“I love the training,” she said. “I love the process more than the end result.”
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