People already asked the question "Who the hell is Annie Bersagel?" before she won the 2014 Dusseldorf Marathon on Sunday, per journalist Alberto Stretti.
The first time they asked was in October, when Bersagel won the USA Marathon Championships. But a domestic win is different than an international win, as is each side of a 2 hour and 30 minute marathon. In Dusseldorf, she ran 2:28:59, and now American women have cause for concern.
Bersagel is an outlier in pro women's running for a couple of reasons, most of which are outlined in this Competitor interview from October: she's lived in Norway for the meat of her post-collegiate running, she hasn't run that many marathons, and she has a demanding hobby of being an international lawyer. When asked what she'd do with her $25K winnings, she said, "replace the tiles in the bathroom."
But with her 2:28:59 in Dusseldorf, Bersagel joins a short list of American women under 2:30, and when you're under 2:30, you're a 2016 U.S. Olympic team trials contender, the deciding race for the 2016 U.S. Olympic marathon team. With her time, Bersagel has just appeared as a blip on every American Olympic marathon hopeful's radar.
True, in the 2014 Boston Marathon, both Shalane Flanagan (2:22:02, seventh) and Des Linden (2:23:54, 10th) were much faster. And they'll both be around, body-permitting, in 2016, as Gullivers in a field of Lilliputians.
But Bersagel, if not a lock, is now at least fast enough to compete for that third team spot. And with her Norwegian locale and exotic racing, she'll be even more of an X factor.
[Photo: Kerstin Kanschik]