On Sunday, Olympic bronze medalist Molly Seidel’s running will take on an entirely new meaning.
Rather than competing for her country, or even for herself, she’s racing with a loftier purpose: helping children fighting cancer.
After stunning the competition at the Tokyo Olympics with a third-place finish for Team USA in the marathon, Seidel, a Cambridge resident, will travel to Cape Cod for the 49th Falmouth Road Race.
After serving as the race’s official starter, she will join the field as the last runner. For each person she passes along the 7-mile course, race organizers will donate $1 to Tommy’s Place, a vacation home in Falmouth for children battling cancer named after race founder Tommy Leonard.
“We’re pretty confident she’ll pass lots of people,” said Jennifer Edwards, Falmouth Road Race executive director.
Falmouth Road Race Inc. itself is a nonprofit, and Edwards said the goal of Seidel’s fund-raiser is to continue to give back to the local community in a new and expanded way.
Following a decorated career running track and cross-country at Notre Dame, Seidel made the transition to road races in 2017, taking second in the USATF Road Running Championships 5k. Since then, she has run just three marathons, including her bronze-winning performance in Tokyo.
This is not Seidel’s first go-around with the Falmouth Road Race. She was one of the race’s four featured elite athletes during the “at-home edition” in 2020, a change made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We got to know [the elite athletes] on a more personal level because one of our big goals here is not only to recruit and have world-class athletes, but we also want to make those athletes accessible to the public,” Edwards said.
The Falmouth Road Race has long been known to draw an international field of both elite and recreational runners, including Olympians, but Seidel’s fund-raiser will be the first of its kind.