Olympic Trials Guide

The Olympic Trials are here and we’ve got you covered on all the event-by-event details below. For the 5th Olympic cycle in a row the Trials will be at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon. Things kick off this Friday, June 21st and run through Sunday night, June 30th. All of the finals will be shown live on NBC, and you can catch the preliminary round of the men’s 5000m (as well as other prelims) live on the USA Network as well as the Peacock app on your smart phone or TV. Let’s get right to it!

Event: Men’s 10,000m
When: Friday, June 21, 7:27pm pst
Athletes: Andrew Colley & Ryan Ford

Andrew Colley and Ryan Ford will be the first ZAP athletes to race when they take to the track for the men’s 10,000m Friday night at 7:27pm pacific time. Ryan enters the meet with the 8th seed time, and 5th fastest time in the US this year thanks to his breakthrough performance at the Night of the 10,000m PB’s in London where he ran 27:40. Ryan qualified for the US Championships a year ago in this event and finished 15th, but at the time his personal best was 28:09. Having taken 29 seconds off his personal best in 2024 he is entering the Trials riding a wave of momentum along with increased expectations of himself.

Teammate Andrew Colley took a different route to the start line at the Olympic Trials, but has arrived in the same place with the same high expectations. Andrew ran in the lead pack of the Olympic Marathon Trials in February for nearly 20 miles before a stomach issue forced him to withdraw. After a few weeks of physical and emotional recovery from that race, Andrew directed his attention to putting together the best track season of his 10 year professional career.

There is an old adage in athletics that great athletes are defined not by their successes, but how they respond to getting knocked down. Andrew certainly felt like he had to pick himself up off the mat after his race in Orlando, and he has done so to a historic degree. He enters the Olympic Track and Field Trials as the only male athlete to qualify for both the Marathon Trials and the 5000m at the Track Trials (Natosha Rogers is the only woman to do so.) It wasn’t always the smoothest ride to get reacquainted with the track for the first time since 2018. But he has been better and better as the season has progressed and is firing on all cylinders entering Eugene.

This spring he has taken 18 seconds off his 10k PR and 17 seconds off his 5k PR, the largest chunk of which came 2 weeks ago at the Portland Track Festival when he ran 13:23. That 5k race, and the fact that he lead the chase pack for nearly the entire 4:11 final mile, suggests he has more in store over 10k this Friday night.

The duo have been preparing for it to be warm in Eugene by going into the sauna for 30 minutes after several runs each week. With temps forecasted to be in the 80’s on Friday evening, they are counting on that preparation paying off. You can watch the men’s 10,000m final, and all the finals, live on NBC. The link for the live results and all relevant meet information will be posted here.

Event: Men’s 5000m (top 5 from each heat + next 6 fastest advance to final)
When: Qualifying Round: Thursday, June 27, 8:03pm pst
Final Round: Sunday, June 30, 4:30pm pst
Athletes: Andrew Colley & Eric van der Els

On the final day to qualify for the Olympic Trials, Eric van der Els and Andrew delivered massive performances in the 5,000m at the Portland Track Festival. Eric ran 13:21 and Andrew ran 13:23, both qualifying marks for the Trials. Those marks have them seeded 26th and 30th in the 34 person field. However, in a densely packed field like this, the path out of the preliminary round to the finals is more dependent on running the right race at the right time than where you’re seeded coming in.

The men’s 5,000m preliminary round will be Thursday, June 27th at 8:03pm pacific time. This race will not be shown live on NBC, but will be shown live on the USA Network as well as the Peacock app. The prelim will be broken into 2 heats of 17 and it’s expected that the top 5 from each heat along with the next 6 fastest performers overall will advance to the final on Sunday, June 30th at 4:30pm pst.

Eric and Andrew both showed their ability to close races hard in their race at Portland. At 2 miles they were on 13:34 pace before Andrew took the lead and began to crank down the pace. Andrew began to wind the pace up with laps of 63 and 64 seconds before closing his final 800m in 2:02. Eric closed his final 2 laps in 2:00 to go. They’ll likely need that closing speed to make the final next week.

Eric, like Andrew and Ryan, are hitting their stride at the right time. Eric missed all of 2023 after tearing a tendon in his foot in December of 2022 and then injuring his achilles on his way back from that recovery. He has been building momentum throughout the year, slowly improving throughout the winter and spring. And important to note, having weeks where he didn’t see much improvement. But over the last few weeks in training things have clicked into place and he took a big jump in Portland. He and Andrew are both excited to be at their best in Eugene.

Event: Women’s 10,000m 
When: Saturday, June 29, 6:09pm pst
Athletes: Amanda Vestri

There isn’t a woman in the 10k field who has seen their star shoot up as fast as Amanda’s over the last month. Less than 5 weeks ago Amanda possessed a 10k PR of 31:54, and even with a career day at the Trials wouldn’t have had a chance to be selected to the Olympic team (more on that below.)

However, over the last 4 weeks Amanda has lowered her best to 31:10 and run 31:17 for 10k on the roads of Central Park. To say she is hitting her stride at the right time is an understatement. Amanda’s race at the Mastercard Mini 10k in New York has made the running world take notice. She has been featured on the Ali on the Run Podcast, the Lactic Acid Podcast, NYRR’s Set the Pace Pod, in Fast Women and Citius Mag. (They’re all great interviews, but we’d strongly recommend the Ali on the Run Podcast and Lactic Acid Podcast. Those are longer form interviews where Amanda’s personality really shines and shows why she’s someone you want to root for in her career!)

In her interview with Fast Women Amanda commented on her mindset going into the Trials, ““All I know is I’m prepared to go out and race as fast as humanly possible… While I do have a shot at making it, I don’t want to be disrespectful to the women who are in the field. It is a hugely deep field and it’s going to take my best day to make the team.”

PSA: The following 4 paragraphs attempt to explain the Olympic selection criteria, but you may be more confused after you read them than you currently are. So feel free to skip them! Hint: If you thought the Olympic Marathon qualifying was confusing, you ain’t seen nothing yet. And if you’re wondering why all this has gotten so difficult, it’s a mandate from the International Olympic Committee on keeping the overall athlete numbers within a certain parameter. (Thanks a lot, breakdancing!) So the IOC tells World Athletics “here is how many athletes total you can have” and it’s up to World Athletics to allocate them on an event-by-event basis.

In order to be selected for the team Amanda must finish in the top 3 at the Trials AND be ranked in the top 27 in the world. She currently sits in 40th, and when you remove athletes in front of her who’s countries already have 3 qualifiers (the maximum allowed), she is sitting in the 30th qualifying position. The qualifying window is open until June 30th so the rankings can continue to shift throughout the Trials and the many national championships that occur during the next 2 weeks. (If you want to follow along you can see the Road to Paris rankings here.)

But in short, Amanda, along with several other women in the race, would need to finish in the top 3 and have the Trials be a reasonably quick race. It’s hard to tell exactly how fast they would need to run, because the top 27 spots remain a moving target until the conclusion of the Trials. But a top 3 finish with a time of 31:30 or faster would almost certainly be enough to earn selection to the Games. The ranking is a combination of time and placing at certain races. And for the Olympic Trials, placing higher helps improve your ranking quite a bit. So placing 2nd instead of 3rd would allow the time to be a bit slower and still end up with the same points for ranking.

After the qualifying window closes, countries will submit their list of athletes they would like to select and their list of athletes who are not going to take their spot due to injury or running a different event. USA Track & Field prioritizes a top 3 finish at the Trials in it’s submission. World Athletics will then take all the scratches and let the US know which athletes would be within the top 27. Then USATF will be able to select the 3 final team members based on those rankings. If it sounds complicated it’s because it is. (Although undoubtedly, I could do a better job explaining it!)

An athlete’s ranking is an average of their 2 best performances. The reason the London race was so impactful for Amanda is because her point total for that race was high enough, that taken by itself would put her in position to be in the top 27. If she were to have an equivalent performance to that (3rd place at the Trials in 31:10) she would basically be a lock for the team based on the current rankings. Without the performance in London, it would be nearly impossible to have a 2 race average high enough to qualify for the Olympics, even if she was in the top 3 at the Trials.

Whew, if you made it this far, congratulations! As a reminder, all of the finals will be shown live on NBC. The men’s 5000m prelim will be shown live on the USA Network and Peacock App. Live results and all relevant meet information, including the full schedule and fields are available here. You can follow us throughout the Trials on our Instagram and Facebook pages. If you’re going to be in Eugene let us know, we’d love to see you!