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Charlotte Woman Qualifies to run US Olympic Marathon Trials


Paula Pridgen at California International Marathon

North Carolina native Paula Pridgen qualified to run in the Olympic Trials in Atlanta on Feb 29, 2020. Paula will represent The Charlotte Running Club and her sponsor Oiselle against the best in the country to see who will represent the U.S. at the Olympic Games. She accomplished this amazing feat by reaching the Olympic Trials B standard time at the 2018 Grandma's Marathon. Later in the year, she improved her ranking with her PR performance at the California International Marathon on December 2, 2018. She ran 2:41:29!

We spoke to Paula recently to learn more about her background and how she got involved with competitive running. The first thing we found surprising was that Paula is a relative newcomer to running. She did not compete in high school or in college (she’s a proud U.N.C. Tar Heel). She went from running once a week to running a half marathon to completing her first marathon in 2012 (Charlotte Thunder Road). From there she ran the Marine Corps Marathon, Chicago, Boston, and Grandmas Marathon in Duluth. Her times dropped dramatically. She attributes much of her success to the support she has received from fellow athletes at the Charlotte Running Club. Paula said “Without the help and support for my training (especially the long training runs) from many wonderful friends at the Charlotte Running Club there is no way I could have gotten through it”.

We asked Paula several questions to learn more about what makes her tick:

Do you have a favorite pre-race and post-race meal? Spaghetti is always great before a race. Also I drink plenty of a high carb sports drink called Maurten. Post race fave is a burger and a beer.

Is there a runner out there who inspires and motivates you? I think Desi (Desiree Linden, Boston Marathon Champ) is the coolest. I bumped into her at the starting line in Boston and it was a bit surreal. Shalane Flanagan (holds American records at 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters) has been a dominant force for a long time... plus she is a fellow Tar Heel.

If you could only do one more marathon which one would you run? (Can’t pick London Marathon or 2020 Tokyo Olympic Marathon). 

The New York City Marathon.

What would be your ideal “run-vacation? Definitely in the mountains. Maybe Arizona. Spend the week running the dirt roads.

What was the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you on a run? On one of my routes in the NoDa neighborhood of Charlotte I kept running by a group of ladies who I assumed were at this street corner awaiting a bus. Later I discovered they were actually prostitutes “working” that particular intersection.

If you could give one piece of advice to fellow runners who are trying to improve their times what would it be? Try your best to be consistent with your training. Obviously, that takes staying healthy. But if you can be consistent, you will gradually improve.


The Destination Marathons team is very proud of Paula for her accomplishments and for providing inspiration to us. We wish her the very best at the Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta on Feb 29, 2020 and we look forward to being there to cheer her on!


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