Last Minute Push for Trials

by EJN Comments (1) Articles, Racing

A whole slew of runners from the Northeast made the trip to Jacksonville, FL for one last ditch effort at getting their qualifier for the Olympic Trials Marathon. The race was the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon, and the field was about as stacked as you’ll ever see. The top 27 men and 14 women all went under the OTQ standard (1:05 and 1:15, respectively).

Here are the qualifiers from the region:


7. Jacob Sienko, 23, Warwick, RI, 1:04:25
23. Jonas Hampton, 26, New Britain, CT, 1:04:46


1. Stephanie Dinius, 26*, Brookline, MA, 1:13:39
4. Keely Maguire, 25*, Newmarket, NH, 1:13:48
11. Karen Roa, 25*, Boston, MA, 1:14:33
20. Hilary Dionne, 30*, Charlestown, MA, 1:16:39

Hilary didn’t qualify, but she already had her qualifier. A near-qualifying time must be a tempo run for her right now.

The three area women who qualified have interestingly enough never run a marathon before. Although like Dionne, Dinius already had her qualifier in hand going in. We reached out to the three sub-1:15 runners to get a couple of quotes after their impressive races:


“Since I already had the OTQ, I wanted to use this race as a way to check in on my fitness leading up to the Trials, and get in as hard of an effort as my legs would allow me in the midst of marathon training. I felt incredibly blessed to be out there with a field of amazing women chasing the standard. It felt very special to be a part of something bigger than myself.

“I did not plan on going for the win, I just felt surprisingly strong in the last few miles and decided to roll with it. I will continue to build up my long runs and workouts in preparation for the Trials, which will be my debut marathon. In terms of shifting gears, the big change will be location.

“I’ll be primarily based in California until race day to train with my coach and avoid running in the New England winter!”


“It mean’t everything that I qualified. I have been going for it for a year. I’m currently in grad school and working part time while trying to run 80 mile weeks which seems impossible, but it’s a great feeling to achieve such a goal as going to the Trials.

Everything needs to fall into place perfectly for great things to happen. I was glad Richard Fanning put together such a great race to allow an opportunity to achieve the OTS. But without Brianne Nelson there I couldn’t have done it. She pushed and helped so much when I was starting to fall apart. She is an amazing athlete but more than anything she’s a good person helping other athletes achieve their goal!”

[Editor’s note: Brianne Nelson (35, Golden, CO) finished 10th in 1:14:33, so she was right there with Karen right through the end.]


“To be able to get the time for the Trials means a lot to me. Running in many ways can be a selfish sport. I’ve taken away time with others and made sacrifices to be able to train, so to see the results and achieve something you set out to do feels very rewarding.

“It hasn’t quite sunken in that I’ll be debuting in the marathon at the trials. I used to joke that I’d never do a marathon and now the joke’s on me.

“But honestly I’m just really excited for the opportunity to experience the Olympic Trials. I’m not a superstar so this is possibly as close as I’ll get to those who are. Just even being in the same race feels like an honor.

“Overall though feeling blessed and glad I didn’t throw it away.”

For further reading you should definitely check out this firsthand account from our pal Salty Running:

Left to Right: Rosie Edwards, Keely Maguire, Brianne Nelson and Laurie Knowles, courtesy of Salty Running

The JAX Half elite race was a labor of love. Runners from all over the country paid their own way to Florida and the elite coordinator, Richard Fannin chipped in money from his own pocket to make it all happen. Resources were limited and, like at many races in this situation, there was only one press vehicle and it was in front of the men. That meant it was up to us to get the photos and video footage of the women, and with just two of us, our focus had to be on the finish.

The full piece, 76 Minutes in Jacksonville, is well worth the five minutes it’ll take to read. Great stuff by Salty.

Other notable men:

38. Nate Jenkins, 35, North Andover, MA, 1:06:51
49. John Busque, 23, Manchester, CT, 1:08:26
54. Derek Jakoboski, 29, North Kingstown, RH, 1:09:07

Other notable women:

31. Liza Howard, 27*, New York, NY, 1:19:50
49. Melissa Donais, 31*, North Andover, MA, 1:28:18

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One Response to Last Minute Push for Trials

  1. Nich Haber says:

    Jake runs for NEDi. He had a qualifier going in and came away with a nice PR. Derek is our resident triathlete. Thanks for the coverage.

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