Sarah Mulcahy of Fort Kent crosses the finish line to win the Bay Of Fundy International Marathon in June 2019 in Lubec. Credit: Frank Van Riper

Sarah Mulcahy doesn’t expect to qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic women’s marathon team.

But the opportunity to race in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on Saturday is the fulfillment of a running goal for the school teacher from Fort Kent.

“You look at a lot of the athletes here, a lot of them are professional athletes who went to college to run,” Mulcahy said Friday from Atlanta, where the race will be held. “I didn’t go to college to run. I’m Sarah from Fort Kent. I have two beautiful children. I teach math. Running is a pastime of mine and this is it, the biggest race of my life and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.”

Mulcahy, 34, is one of approximately 700 women who will leave the starting line at 12:20 p.m., just after the men’s marathon trial starts at 12:08.

The top three finishers in each race will represent the United States at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.

Others with Maine connections who have qualified for the women’s marathon trial are Michelle Lilienthal, 37, of Portland, and South Portland native Amanda Nurse, 32.

Men in the field with Maine links include Matt McClintock, 28, an Athens native and former Purdue University distance standout who now lives and trains in North Carolina; Ryan Smith, 24, of Auburn; Cape Elizabeth native Matt Rand, 28; South Freeport native Henry Sterling, 28; and Dan Vassallo, 34, a former Colby College runner from Peabody, Massachusetts.

The race will mark the culmination of 16 weeks of preparation by Mulcahy under coach Rob Gomez. That included a training run at the Millinocket Marathon in December, outdoor workouts when the winther weather in the St. John Valley obliged and plenty of treadmill time when Mother Nature didn’t cooperate.

“As long as it was 10 below or better, I just geared up and went,” said Mulcahy, who will wear a MDI-based Crow Athletics singlet in the race. “This was the most consistent training regimen I’ve had for a marathon since I’ve been working with Rob. Everything seems to be falling into place, so we’ll see how it rolls [Saturday].”

Mulcahy — who was told by doctors she’d never run again after suffering a hip fracture in early 2017 — qualified for the Trials with a personal-best finish of 2 hours, 44 minutes, 28 seconds at the California International Marathon in December 2018.

She hopes to post a sub-2:40 clocking or at least a new personal best in Atlanta.

“If those goals don’t pan out I just want to finish the race and enjoy it,” she said. “There’s something to be said about just being from a small town in northern Maine and having grit and hoping to push through. To me it’s just the experience, something you never thought you’d do in your life.”

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...