Squeaking Across the Line for the Olympic Marathon Trials

Adkins, 25, an occupational therapist from Colorado Springs, played soccer growing up and ran for her high school track and cross-country teams, but said she didn’t take it too seriously. She walked onto the University of Southern Indiana track team and ran in one national championship, in her senior year: the 10,000 meters at the 2016 N.C.A.A. Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships, where she finished 12th.

Adkins expected that to be it for her running career, but then realized that there were still ways she could be competitive. She ran the 2017 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in two hours, 59 minutes, seven seconds. When she moved to Colorado, she thought she was “going to be done with competitive running and do other things, like rock climb and hike and camp.”

But she met a group of fast runners through the Colorado Running Company, a running store in Colorado Springs. “They talked me into trying to actually train for the Boston Marathon instead of just running it,” she said. She trained with a group of the women who were aiming to make the 2:45 Olympic trial qualifying standard but caught strep throat a week before the 2019 Boston Marathon and finished in just over three hours.

She got talked into trying again by her friends and her boyfriend, and signed up late for the California marathon, known as CIM. That meant she missed getting an elite runner bib, and the 2:45 pace group was for runners with elite starts only. Instead, Adkins lined up with the general runner crowd, about 10 seconds behind the elite women’s pack (that’s why her chip time, which measures from when she crossed the starting line herself to her finish, is two hours, 44 minutes, 48 seconds). Only gun time — the time the race starts, not the moment you cross the start line — is considered valid for qualifying purposes.

“It was quite easy to find just a massive pack of girls all running in sync,” she said.

Her plan was “to just hang onto that group,” she said. “At about mile 23, I thought, ‘Oh man, this is where it hurts.’” At that point, the group that was still in the hunt to qualify for the Olympic marathon trials started to break apart.