Carnegie Mellon University
December 19, 2023

Graduate Student Colin Martin Heads to U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

By Amy Pavlak Laird

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Associate Dean for Communications, MCS
  • 412-268-9982

Carnegie Mellon University’s Colin Martin is powering through his fourteenth run of the week, closing in on his 110-mile goal. It’s another cold, dreary day in Pittsburgh, but the lack of sun isn’t getting Martin down. The chemistry doctoral student is already anticipating a sunny day on Feb. 3, in Orlando, Florida, where he will compete in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

In June 2023, Martin ran the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, with a time of 2 hours, 17 minutes and 28 seconds, which met the qualifying threshold for the U.S. Olympic trials.

“This is the biggest goal I’ve ever set for myself and to achieve it was really special,” Martin said.

Martin’s love for running began in the seventh grade, when he joined his twin brother on their middle school’s cross-country team. He continued competing in track and cross country at the University of Michigan, but an injury sidelined him for a few years. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biomolecular science, Martin pursued a master’s degree in education at the Citadel in South Carolina. He had some eligibility left in the NCAA, so he ran for the college for a year.

“I found my love for running again at the Citadel because of my coach, Erin Leonard,” he said. “She meets you as a person first before she meets you as your coach, and I think that was the biggest difference for me.”

But Martin didn’t start running marathons until he came to Carnegie Mellon and joined the Pittsburgh Track Club. He found a home with the club, a community group for runners trying to compete at or near the professional level.

“I feel like the pursuit of something that seems really far away seems a little bit more tangible when you can experience it with other people,” he said. “We push each other and train together and race together. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Martin runs 10-12 hours a week as he trains for the big race in February. He will be one of hundreds of runners hoping to represent the U.S. at next summer’s Olympics in Paris. For now, he is trying to manage expectations.

“Everyone comes up to me and they go Colin, you’re going to the Olympics, you’re going to the Olympics! And I always have to slow them down and be like probably. And by probably, I mean definitely not,” he joked. “It’s a very, very long shot.”

Only the top three men and top three women make the United States team.

“For me to be able to reach that level, I would need to quit school and do nothing but run all the time, every day,” Martin said. “And I love science, so I’d rather do both and just enjoy.”

Martin, who is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Chemistry Professor Bruce Armitage’s lab, conducts research related to peptide nucleic acid synthesis and its applications to human disease therapies.

Martin said he is thrilled to be running in the Orlando race, one of the most competitive distance-running races in the country. His goal is to finish among the top 100. His family, his fiancée Sarah and his friends are cheering him on.

“They’re incredible people to have around,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without them.”

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