Molly Seidel is not yet a legend like the previous runners, Bannister and Prefontaine, yet she has performed some legendary feats. The first time she ran 26 miles in her life, the distance of the marathon, was in the 2020 Olympic Trials, when she qualified for the team by coming in 2nd place. In only her 3rd marathon race, she won an Olympic bronze medal. Only 3 American women have ever medaled in the Olympic marathon and 2004 was the last time this happened. In her 5th marathon she ran the 4th fastest time ever by a woman in the NY marathon and a new American record for that course.
Molly caught my attention because of “how” she won the Olympic medal in 2021. My fortune was that I just happened to be tuned in to the finish of the women’s marathon. I think there were several things that pulled me in and kept me watching to see what happened. It was clear that the announcers had not planned on Molly being in third position with the other elite runners. The broadcasters seemed unprepared and were genuinely surprised by what was happening. One of them said, “She is running with experience, quite frankly, that she doesn’t have.”
She held on and got third, a bronze medal. And then, what reeled me in, and prompted my desire to learn more about this story was her comments immediately after the race.
She said, “I am so tired.” She praised the talent of the runners she raced with. She expressed gratitude for all of her team and family. “I figured if I just stuck with those really talented runners, stuck my nose where it didn’t belong and just kind of was brave, something good might come from it.” She did not praise herself. Then with tears in her eyes, “She asked her family to drink a beer for her.”
Molly Seidel seemed sincere, humble and unaffected by the extraordinary feat she had performed. As I will cover in the next two parts of this story, Molly had plenty of emotional, physical failures and challenges to overcome. She had high expectations, an eating disorder and several serious and chronic injuries. Her journey, like most of ours, was full of ups and downs and sometimes, despair.
One of the messages is that her perceived indifference during her interview as to what was expected or what she could control, might be the ingredient that helped her overcome previous difficulties related to running and life. And, might be the ingredient that has her performing with experience that she doesn’t have.
Hold on for a fun ride with a joyful young woman from Wisconsin who is winning races and hearts and has some experiences that may help us all be indifferent to those things that are “none of our business.”