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Tacoma runner dominates Eugene Marathon, reaches top Olympic Trials qualifying standard

Tacoma's Kate Landau celebrates after winning the Eugene Marathon on Sunday morning.
Tacoma's Kate Landau celebrates after winning the Eugene Marathon on Sunday morning. Kate Landau

Two weeks after hypothermia forced her to drop out of the Boston Marathon, Tacoma's Kate Landau added another big win to her resume.

Landau, 41, won the Eugene Marathon on Sunday morning in a personal-best time of 2 hours, 35 minutes, 44 seconds. Her time was the second best for a woman in the 12-year history of the event. She beat the second-place woman (Becki Spellman of Ohio) by more than six minutes. Only six of the more than 800 male runners were faster than Landau.

Landau's time earned the top qualifying standard for the 2020 Olympic Trials in Atlanta.

Eugene's historic Hayward Field seemed like a fitting place for Landau to accomplish this goal. It was there in 1996, that she finished second in the 10,000-meter race and sixth in the 5,000 at the NCAA championships while running for Georgetown. She went on to compete at the trials for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

"I was not nervous at all," Landau said by phone Sunday afternoon as she drove home from the race. Even though she was less than two weeks removed from a disappointing experience at the Boston Marathon.

On a wet, cold April 16 morning in Boston, Landau said she couldn't feel her legs by the time she reached the halfway mark. Her heart rate was down and her pace slowed dramatically. She had hypothermia and pulled out of the race.

After Boston, the reigning Tacoma Athletic Commission Female Amateur Athlete of the Year tried to her best to keep quiet about her plans to run Eugene. "Just in case something happened again," she said.

All went well.

"I was all about being grateful and thankful instead of negative," she said. "I kept saying, 'Thank you God. Thank you Lord."

She'd already made the "B" qualifying standard (2:45:00) for the Olympic Trials, but her goal was the "A" standard (2:37:00 or faster). "A" standard runners are assured a spot in the race and traditionally have their expenses covered. The field is filled out with "B" runners who pay their own way, but Landau says "B" standard runners will have their travel costs covered for the 2020 trials. Marathoners at the trials must finish in the top three to advance to the Olympics, but second- and third-place finishers must achieve an "A" standard time to advance.

Landau grew up in New York and was an all-America runner at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Landau only recently emerged again as an elite runner. She stopped running at 22 because an eating disorder left her body incapable of handling the rigors of distance running.

She ran her first marathon in May 2016. She won the Tacoma City Marathon in record time. Later that year, she won the Portland Marathon, shattering the women’s masters record and posting the second best time ever by woman. In 2017, she finished second in the master’s division at the Boston Marathon. She won the Arizona Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in Phoenix earlier this year.

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497, @AdventureGuys