Rory Tunningley is bringing his “A” game to the 2020 Olympic Marathon trials, set for February 29 in Atlanta, GA.
Tunningley, who will take over as store manager at Ready to Run at the end of February, has been running most of his life. As a star high school runner for Lockhart (where he was coached by Scott Hippensteel), he was the state 4A cross-country champ back in 2007. He went on to run for The University of Texas, where he served as cross-country team captain his senior year. While at UT, Tunningley helped the UT men win back-to-back regional titles.
This won’t be Tunningley’s first Olympic Trials—he ran them in 2016, clocking a respectable 2:35:53 in his first marathon effort. At the time, he had qualified for the trials with a half-marathon of 1:04:51 at the Philadelphia Rock’ n Roll Half Marathon.
He’s come a long way since then, and this time around, qualified for the trials at Grandma’s Marathon last June, rocketing to a 2:16:25.
Coached by John Schrup, Tunningley has been running up to 90 miles a week and supplementing that with regular lifting workouts at the gym.
“Leading into the trials, my key workouts are hard long runs,” said Tunningley, who ran a 4:55 pace to post a 24:30 at the Thundercloud Turkey Trot in November. “We have done a few workouts where I’m running marathon pace over some challenging hills. But we also try to keep it simple and I still do a lot of more half-marathon specific work where I run eight or 10 miles a week under 5:00 minute-mile pace.”
As a final tune-up for the trials, Tunningley will be running the Austin Half-Marathon next weekend (February 16). The trials course, which will start and finish at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, is known to be a hilly course, as is the Austin Half Marathon.
“I’m choosing to run Austin in order to run marathon-race effort over a hilly course,” he said. “I wanted to get in one last hard workout before the trials. I’m excited to be a part of the Austin Marathon, and it is a great event.”
Tunningley’s plan for the trials is to run conservatively and move up if all goes well. “I’d love to finish in the top 30. I’m trying to not think about time and just run by feel and effort,” he said.
“It’s a huge accomplishment to make it to my second Olympic trials,” he added. “I’m excited to see where I stand against the best runners in the country and I love that I get a shot to compete on our country’s biggest stage.”
Upcoming Races: Saturday, February 15, at 8:00 a.m. Sweetheart Shuffle 5K/10K at Northeast Metropolitan Park. 15500 Sun Light Near Way in Pflugerville. Sunday, February 16 The Ascension Seton Austin Marathon & Half Marathon at 7:00 a.m., downtown Austin.