Feb 21, 2020

Carrie Mack and her Journey: The Perseverance to Atlanta

By Arianna Marks

Grady Sports Media 

Carrie Mack’s time on top of the world was short-lived.

She began the month of October 2019 by smashing her personal record and qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials with a time of 2:36:36 at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. By the end of the month, a broken right toe left her unsure of whether she would be able to compete in the race for which she had worked so hard to qualify.

Mack’s passion for running began as a child while running with her family. She began competing in middle school and started racing longer distances in high school, and she was eventually recruited to run at Missouri State University. 

After graduating, Mack decided to take an extensive break from training and racing. After two years, she decided that she wanted a long term, structured training. Her decision to actively compete in marathons coincided with when she met her current coach, Elliott Heath a couple of years later.

The two quickly clicked as Mack’s fitness began to improve. “We have a really good coach-athlete relationship with a good foundation and an ability to trust each other,” Mack said.

They discussed her desire to qualify for the Trials, which led Mack to attempt to do so at the 2018 Chicago Marathon. She ran a PR of 2:45:11 but missed the qualifying standard by an agonizing 11 seconds.

Confident that she was capable of hitting the qualifying standard, Mack continued training with that goal in mind. Unfortunately, her progress was halted in February 2019 when she strained her left anterior tibialis.  

Although frustrated with the setback, Mack and Heath took a patient approach to her recovery. She was eventually able to resume training in preparation for the Twin Cities Marathon in October. 

The race was an overwhelming success. Mack easily qualified for the Trials and lowered her PR by over eight minutes. Although she performed well, this was qualifying for trials weren’t her only concern. She focused on personal goals and growth.

“Carrie was not racing to just to race,” Heath said. “She went into this race with that mentality and it led her to great success.” 

Less than a month later, Mack broke her right toe while doing drills at the gym. It was a freak accident that suddenly put her ability to race the Trials in jeopardy.

Mack said she was stunned but tried to remain positive. She relied on support from Heath and her teammates at Littlewing Athletics and spent more than two months cross-training in an effort to maintain her fitness. She began running again in late December and is doing all she can to be as fit as possible when she arrives at the start line in Atlanta.    

With an optimistic attitude alongside a great support system, Mack has thrived despite her untimely injuries. Her goal for the Trials is to run a smart race and not let others affect her race strategy. 

Despite a less than ideal lead up to the race, Mack is still in good spirits. 

“I'm just really excited for the experience of running into anything in Atlanta,” she said. “it's such an exciting time for especially women in the U. S. and yeah it just feels really special to be a part of this movement and I can't wait to see what unfolds on race day.”

Leading up to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon, Atlanta Track Club partnered with the Grady Sports Media program at the University of Georgia to profile some of the competitors in the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials. The authors of these stories are undergraduate students enrolled in the program and have been lightly edited by the Club. See all of the stories at https://www.atlanta2020trials.com/news/uga-trials-project.