18-year-old runner Alana Hadley will be competing in the 2015 New York City Marathon as an elite athlete, she announced on Twitter.
“I am super excited to have this opportunity to race in the elite field of the TCS NYC Marathon, something I have dreamed of doing for years,” Hadley blogged. “I believe it will be a tremendous opportunity for me to test myself in NYC and race with the best runners on the planet, as well as provide me with invaluable experience before racing in the Olympic Trials in February.”
Hadley hit the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying mark with her 2:41:56 finish at the 2013 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon when she was 16 years old. She became the youngest person since 1984 to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials since Cathy O’Brien accomplished the feat at the same age in 1984.
Hadley made her 26.2 mile debut at 16 years old by clocking a 2:58:23 finish at the 2013 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.
Now a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Hadley holds a 2:38:34 personal best from her victory at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in 2014. After the race, Hadley accepted the race's prize money and the Olympic Trials qualifier bonus, which made her ineligible to compete at the NCAA level.
Hadley will most likely not be eligible to run in the 2016 Olympics if she finishes in the top three at next February's trials in Los Angeles. The minimum age for Olympic marathoners is expected to be 20 years old. U.S.A. Track and Field spokeswoman Jill Geer told Runner's World that because the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials also serve as the 2016 national championship, she can run and win whatever prize money her finishing place entitles her but she can not compete in Rio de Janeiro if she finishes among the top runners.
More than 60 women, including 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials champion Shalane Flanagan have already declared for Los Angeles' race. Two-time Olympian Kara Goucher ran 2:26:06 to nab the third Olympic team spot in 2012.
Hadley is coached by her father, Mark, and logged 116 miles with a 24 mile long run just last week.