Duriel Hardy basks in the glow of a PR Olympic Marathon trials qualifier

Way back in 2010 as a pre-med student at Brown University, Duriel Hardey clocked a swift 29:51 for 10,000 meters. Last year, Hardy showed he’d returned to top form with a PR of 1:04:52 (a 4:58 pace) at the 2022 Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in Duluth Minnesota. But things didn’t go so well at the 2022 Berlin Marathon that fall. Hardy tore a hamstring at mile 12 and had to take three months completely off. It was a full year before he felt really ready to race hard again. But race hard he did.

A week ago, Hardy, a neurologist within The University of Texas Health Austin Pediatric Neurosciences at Dell Children’s Medical Center qualified for the 2024 Olympic Marathon trials at the California International Marathon, ducking under the 2:18:00 qualifying time with a thrilling sprint finish to clock 2:17:56.

The Olympic marathon qualifying window wrapped up on December 5, 2023, so, going in to the race—which took place on December 4—Hardy knew it was literally his last shot at a 2024 qualifier.

And 2023 was full of work and family demands. Let’s face it, a career as a full-time physician can be pretty demanding both mentally and physically. “I just got appointed as our medical student clerkship director,” said Hardy. “I’m also working on adult neuro- immunology. I took on editing two different journals- Pediatric Neurology and Child Neurology as well.”

Plus, Hardy and his wife Christine are proud parents of a one-year old girl, which adds a whole other dimension of energy output. But still, the man had the dedication and willpower to put in elite-level training.

He’d come close to qualifying last October with a 2:19:09 at the McKirdy Micro Marathon in Rockland, New York. “I was disappointed,” Hardy said after that race. “I told my wife. ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ She looked me in the eye and said, ‘Yes you can, I know you can, I know you will.’ ”

“At Mckirdy I tightened up pretty badly at 20 miles. At CIM,  my goal was to go out at 5:15 pace and see how long I could hold it. I didn’t want to try anything new. I wanted to stay relaxed in the first half and fight for the last 10K. I made it to 22 miles before tightening up. Plus I fought harder, thinking, ‘Don’t give up.’ That allowed me to not lose as much time as I did at McKirdy.”

But wow, talk about a nail-biter.

“When I passed 40K and then rounded the corner to the finish, I thought I could do it. I saw 2:17:40 on the clock…I didn’t know if I could get to that line in time, but I thought, ‘I’m sure as hell gonna try.’ I focused on pumping my arms, and I started picking up momentum… I had to try. As I got closer I saw people cheering me on. Of course the crowd was screaming. In those last moments, you try to remember all the sacrifices, the hard work, all the people praying for you. The 2:17:56 was a big PR for me!”

Hardy is currently coached by German coach Johannes Motschmann. “We have an app and he gives me my workouts. I still feel very inexperienced at the marathon. I started off as a 5,000 runner and went to 5K/10K. For my marathon buildup, I did a mix of long runs, including a few 25 milers. Plus, after McKirdy, I added some speed work. The marathon is a whole different animal.”

Upcoming races: Sunday, December 17 at 9:30 a.m., the Dreamland Santa Run 5K in Dripping Springs. Saturday, December 23 at 8:00 a.m., the Holiday 5K, 10K, & Half Marathon at Pfennig Park in Pflugerville.