Galen Rupp confirmed Thursday that he will be participating in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on February 13. This is big news, but it’s not completely unexpected. Rupp is 29 years old, and his prominence on the international stage has lost some of its edge. This is not to say he is not competitive or won’t win himself a few USA Championship track titles this year, but to beat the East Africans takes just a little more than what he has been showing as of late. Although he still has time on the track, with the Olympic year here, and his fitness being where it is, now could not be a better time. For most elite runners, debuting at the marathon distance at the Olympic Trials and being a real contender to making the team is merely a day dream, but with Galen Rupp it’s a real possibility, if not an expected one.
This has been a much anticipated announcement ever since he met the qualifying time with a 61:20 half marathon in mid December at the Foot Traffic Holiday Half Marathon in Portland, Oregon. His participation in the race was so nonchalant it was almost hard to take seriously with how easy it seemed to come to him. It was not at all broadcasted beforehand, the course had just been USATF sanctioned a few days earlier, and he managed to run the time completely alone in less than ideal weather. Needless to say, Rupp will be a force to be reckoned with.
Rupp not only boasts a 60:30 half marathon personal best, but he also holds the American 10K record with a blistering 26 minutes and 44 seconds. Both the strength and speed he displays will no doubt throw a wrench in the strategies of his fellow competitors when it comes time to toe the line in Los Angeles. Racing a competitor with Rupp’s résumé, it’s a matter of picking one’s poison when trying to decide whether to go hard all the way, or making it tactical and hoping to find a way to outkick him. The only true advantage is that Rupp will be debuting at the marathon distance. Even then, with a meticulous coach like Alberto Salazar it’s hard to believe that he is not adequately prepared, and already pretty familiar with how the 26.2 miles will feel.
There is a lot of excitement around this and possibility of Rupp becoming a marathoner, but Galen said in a USATF interview posted Thursday evening, “I’d say the 10K is still definitely my focus, but I’m excited about the possibility of doing that and the marathon, or that and the 5K.” Though making the team is clearly a goal for the marathon, it’s clear that Rupp still has his eyes and focus on the track, and what he can do to make the team there as well. Not only that, but he plans on running the 3K as Portland hosts the World Indoor Championships just over a month after his marathon. It might be a little early to say, but this just might be the start of something special.