Boise State

She won a national title at Boise State. Now she’s an Olympic hopeful in the marathon.

Emma Bates, who won a national title at Boise State, was the fourth woman and first American to cross the finish line at the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13, 2019, in Chicago.
Emma Bates, who won a national title at Boise State, was the fourth woman and first American to cross the finish line at the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13, 2019, in Chicago. AP

Emma Bates has only run two marathons in her career, but her name is quickly ascending a list of hopefuls for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Bates was the top American finisher at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, placing fourth in a personal-best time of 2 minutes, 25.27 seconds. Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei was the top female finisher in a world-record time of 2:14.04.

Bates won a national championship in the women’s 10,000 meters in 2014 while at Boise State and is a 12-time All-American. The 2015 Boise State graduate was 21st in the 10,000 at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, but appears to have found an even better fit in the 26.2-mile marathon.

“It was so much fun,” Bates told NBCChicago.com. “The streets of Chicago are so electric.”

Jordan Hasay was widely considered the favorite among American competitors entered in the Chicago Marathon, but she dropped out of the race with a hamstring injury in the second mile. Four other Americans joined Bates in the top 10.

“It was really sad,” Bates told RunnersWorld.com. “I would never wish an injury upon anyone. I want the (Olympic) team to be the best people.”

The U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials are set for Feb. 29, 2020, in Atlanta. The top three finishers will represent Team USA.

Bates’ Chicago time is nearly 3 minutes faster than her marathon debut of 2:28:19 to win the Cal International in December 2018. Her original time was already fast enough to get her into the trials, but she decided she needed more experience.

“Experience is everything,” Bates told RunnersWorld.com. “I didn’t have the experience most people have in a marathon, because I was running by myself the whole time at (the Cal International). It was nice because you have the guys, but they’re so back and forth. I mean, they surge because they don’t want a girl to pass them, and then they fall off. It was sporadic.”

Bates lives and trains in the Boise area with her fiance and coach, Kameron Ulmer. The two are getting married at a friend’s house this weekend in Boise, according to multiple reports.

“I’m super excited but ready to party,” Bates told a Chicago TV station at the finish line.

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