Megan Youngren will become the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the 2020 U.S. Olympic marathon trials. Youngren, 28, is one of 63 women from the California International Marathon to qualify for the trials on Feb. 29. She finished in 40th place, with a time of 2 hours, 43 minutes, and 52 seconds. “I’m open to talking about it to people because that’s the only way you make progress on stuff like this,” Youngren said. “To my knowledge, and that of other staff who have been with USATF for many years, we do not recall a trans competitor at our Marathon Trials,” spokeswoman Susan Hazzard said. Youngren started running in 2013 to improve her health after her transition the year prior and said that the sport helped her to overcome lingering symptoms from a bout of shingles, according to Sports Illustrated. She ran her first marathon at the 2017 Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks, with a time of 4 hours and 48 minutes. Organizers of major distance races, such as the Boston Marathon and the Western States Endurance Run, have in recent years updated their policies regarding transgender participants.
Youngren said she sought to achieve a sub-three-hour marathon time after she participated in the 2019 Los Angeles Marathon. “People will try to put it down by saying, ‘That’s too easy because you’re trans.’ But what about the 500 other women who will qualify? There’s probably someone with the exact same story,” she said. “I trained hard. I got lucky. I dodged injuries. I raced a lot, and it worked out for me. That’s the story for a lot of other people, too.”