Wisconsin Marathon Medalist: ‘Please Drink a Beer for Me’

We have a new hero as Nashotah’s Molly Seidel guts out a bronze medal in a grueling Olympics marathon.

One of the most decorated Wisconsin runners ever has added an Olympic medal to her stockpile.

Nashotah’s Molly Seidel turned in an incredibly gutsy performance in oppressive conditions in Japan and captured a bronze medal in just her third career marathon on Friday evening (early Saturday morning in Japan).

Seidel pointed at the USA logo on her chest, raised her finger in the air and repeatedly screamed as she crossed the finish line, becoming only the third U.S. woman to win an Olympic marathon medal.

And she had a message for her friends and family who gathered at a watch party in her hometown: “I’m so tired. Please drink a beer for me,” Seidel said while sobbing after an NBC Sports reporter handed her a phone so that she could speak to her supporters.


 

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The start time of the race was move up one hour because of high temperatures and stifling humidity that climbed well above 80% during the race.

Concerns about weather conditions led organizers to hold the marathon in Sapporo, the capital of the mountainous northern Japanese island of Hokkaido about 500 miles north of Tokyo, where the bulk of the Summer Games have been held. But conditions in Sapporo plagued the runners throughout the 26.2-mile course.

Seidel stayed with the lead pack throughout and when the group was whittled down to four runners in the late stages, she found herself in a position for a coveted Olympic medal in possibly the strongest field ever for the women’s Olympic marathon.

Seidel crossed the finish line in 2:27:46, behind Kenyans Peres Jepchirchir and Brigid Kosgei, who captured the gold and silver medals, respectively.

After draping an American flag over her shoulders, Seidel wept as the enormity of her accomplishment set in.

In February of 2020, Seidel stunned the running world when she finished second in the Olympic Trials marathon in Atlanta in her first-ever race at that distance to qualify for the Tokyo Games. She then had to wait an additional year to compete in her first Olympics after the coronavirus pandemic forced a postponement.

“I can’t even explain how incredible this performance is,” NBC Sports analyst Kara Goucher said as it became apparent that Seidel would capture a medal.

Seidel joined Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won the inaugural race at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, and Deena Kastor, who captured bronze at the 2004 Athens Games, as the only American women to win a medal in the Olympic marathon.

2020 Olympic Trials Marathon; Photo courtesy of Molly Seidel

At 27, Seidel was the youngest of the three-person U.S. marathon team. Aliphine Tuliamuk, who outdistanced Seidel at the trials but had been dealing with a hip injury, dropped out of the race around the 12-mile mark. Sally Kipyego, who stayed with a lead pack that included Seidel for much of the race, fell off the pace late and finished 17th. 

Seidel made a statement early in the race by showing she had no fear of running from the front of the pack. She doused herself with water and held ice packs to various parts of her body as aid station workers did their best to keep the runners from overheating.

“I wanted to come out today and get up in it and stick my nose where it didn’t belong and just see what I could come away with,” Seidel said after the race.

Seidel starred at tiny University Lake School in Hartland in Waukesha County. She won four consecutive Division 3 state championships in the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs, setting state records along the way. 

She also won the state cross country title four years a row, joining legendary runner and three-time Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton as the only ones to accomplish the feat. Seidel turned in a record-breaking time to cap her senior year. 

At Notre Dame she won an NCAA Division I cross-country national title and three titles on the track.

An injury sidelined Seidel for the Olympic Trials in 2016. She then essentially disappeared from the running scene for the next three years, plagued with injuries and struggling with an eating disorder.

She then mounted an impressive comeback, which got a major boost with her stunning performance at the Olympic Trials.

And now, Seidel has captured worldwide attention with her grit and determination that has made her an Olympic medalist.

“I can’t believe it. Just getting here was already a dream come true. To be able to come out here today against a field like this and to be able to come away with a medal for the U.S., I’m in shock. I’m in disbelief right now,” Seidel told NBC Sports. “I worked so hard for this. Everybody has supported me through this. This is not just me, this is my family, my coach, this is everyone who has trained with me. I can’t believe this right now. I’m so grateful for everyone who got me here. I’m so happy.”

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Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.