Chris Clark, from Anchorage, Alaska, joined past “surprise” U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon winners Jenny Spangler (1996) and Mark Conover (1988) with her upset victory on a tough course under sunny skies and warm temperatures. The 22nd-fastest Trials qualifier took control of race at the 20-mile mark and went unchallenged to the tape in 2:33:31, more than a 7-minute personal record.
“My expectations were top 20, and a great day would be top 10. Winning I never thought about. I stayed focused on what I needed to do. I never thought I’d run this fast. The crowd was unbelievable the whole way. I’m in shock,” said the pathologist and mother of two who trained on a treadmill in her house for the Trials. At 37 years old, Clark became the oldest U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon champion.
Despite the 70 degree temperatures at Columbia on February 26, sixteen (16) women set PRs including Clark. In addition, four women – Julie Peterson, Bev Docherty, Jane Welzel and Janice Ettle – became five-time U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon finishers.
Clark was the only U.S. woman to qualify for the 2000 Olympics because she did not have an Olympic “A” standard (sub-2:33) and the Trials champion was guaranteed a spot on Team USA. In Sydney, Australia, Clark finished 19th in 2:31:35, another PR.