UMKC law school student Quinlan Moll is the kind of 23-year-old who can run a mile in around the time it may take the average person to read this article: five minutes and 18 seconds. He can then keep that pace for another 25 miles.
If you do the math, Quinlan Moll can run 26.2 miles in around two hours and 19 minutes, which is exactly what he did last June when he competed in Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota.
“It was my first marathon, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I went out a little bit conservatively,” said Moll. “Nine miles in or so I was feeling pretty good, so I was like, let’s start catching some people.”
Moll finished the race 25th out of over 3,000 male participants, with a staggering final time of 2:18:50, just 10 seconds under the “B” standard of 2:19 that USA Track and Field requires to enter the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Having qualified, Moll will race in the Olympic Trials on February 29th at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia.
After coming through the halfway mark at 69:48, a pace insufficient to qualify, Moll remembers thinking, “I’m going to have to pick it up a bit,” which he did, cutting his pace down to a jaw-dropping 5:15 per mile.
“I was so focused on trying to get the next guy, just get the person ahead of me, that I really wasn’t focusing too much on how tired I was or how much longer I had left,” said Moll.
With less than a month before the Olympic trials, Moll has been training by running an average of 100 miles per week. If that isn’t impressive enough, he manages this feat while working part-time at a law firm and taking 13 credit hours in his final semester of law school.
“It’s just something I’ve been doing for a long time. I did it all throughout high school and then through undergrad,” said Moll. “It’s just kind of normal to me, but you do have to take it one thing at a time. Focus on school, and then focus on running. Being flexible helps.”
After running track and cross country at UMKC for five years—where the longest race he competed in was 10k—Moll decided to try his first marathon last summer. During his training, he said he kept the goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the back of his mind.
Now what was a dream is a reality, and in just his second-ever marathon, Moll will compete with around 230 of the best male runners in the country. If he finishes in the top three, he will earn a coveted spot on Team USA in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
“I’ve never run in a race like this before,” said Moll. “The top people in the country are all going to be there, so as long as I can just go out there and compete, then I’ll be pretty satisfied with the outcome.”
While he understands the difficulty of the competition, Moll doesn’t discount a future as an Olympic athlete. Regardless of how he finishes the race, he plans to continue training competitively, with the goal of Olympic competition looming at the finish line, 26.2 miles away.
“Who knows how I’ll adapt,” said Moll. “I’ve only run one.”