Meb Keflezighi
AP

Meb Keflezighi: I didn’t want to put all my eggs in Olympic trials basket

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Meb Keflezighi never questioned whether to race a fall marathon before February’s Olympic trials, despite the short turnaround between 26.2-mile races.

“The only question that was on the table was should I do New York, or Chicago to give me more recovery time [for the Olympic trials]?” Keflezighi said in a phone interview Wednesday. “Things didn’t work out with Chicago. I have a great relationship with New York.”

Keflezighi, 40, will run his 10th New York City Marathon on Nov. 1, which is 104 days before he plans to run the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials marathon in Los Angeles on Feb. 13.

If Keflezighi had chosen to race the Chicago Marathon last Sunday instead of New York, he would have gained three weeks of recovery time for the Olympic trials. Most of the other U.S. Olympic marathon hopefuls are not racing fall marathons.

“It would’ve been nice to have that recovery [from racing Chicago],” Keflezighi said. “But for me, my record speaks pretty well for my recovery. Yeah I’m 40, but I also have 100,000 miles under my belt. I’m not starting from zero, and I didn’t want to put all my eggs in the Olympic trials basket.

“If I get sick or I get food poisoning or all that stuff [at the Olympic trials], you’d be like, you should’ve done a fall marathon.”

The turnaround from New York to the Olympic trials would be Keflezighi’s third shortest span between competitive marathons, according to the track and field statistics website Tilastopaja.

In 69 days, Keflezighi finished sixth in the 2011 New York City Marathon and won the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Houston.

In 70 days, Keflezighi finished second in both the Athens 2004 Olympic marathon and the 2004 New York City Marathon.

Keflezighi is arguably the favorite going into the Olympic marathon trials, given his consistent record and that he ran the second fastest U.S. marathon since the 2012 Olympics in winning Boston in 2014. Only Dathan Ritzenhein, who was fourth at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials won by Keflezighi, has been faster in the last three years.

If three men beat Keflezighi at the marathon trials, he does not expect to enter the Olympic track and field trials 10,000m in Eugene, Ore., in a last-gasp Olympic bid in July.

For Beijing 2008, Keflezighi finished eighth at the Olympic marathon trials and did enter the track and field trials 10,000m, placing 13th and missing the Olympic team.

“If I was in my 20s or 30s … I would consider it,” said Keflezighi, who in 2016 will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic runner, according to sports-reference.com. “As of right now, if you ask me, absolutely not, but only time will tell.”

The biggest marathon news this fall came in Berlin on Sept. 27, when Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge prevailed in a time 63 seconds slower than the world record despite traversing most of the 26.2 miles with his insoles flopping out from the back of his shoes.

The incident brought to mind other famous shoe malfunctions, such as when Keflezighi left his nasal strip in his left shoe before the 2011 New York City Marathon, finished sixth as it rubbed against the foot and developed an infection that cost him three weeks of training ahead of the 2012 Olympic trials 69 days later, which he won in a then-personal-best time.

“To this day, even though four years later, there’s a scar still there,” Keflezighi said. “I still have to watch it.”

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Fall marathons lack U.S. Olympic women’s contenders, too

Johnny Gregorek runs fastest blue jeans mile in history

Johnny Gregorek
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Johnny Gregorek, a U.S. Olympic hopeful runner, clocked what is believed to be the fastest mile in history for somebody wearing jeans.

Gregorek recorded a reported 4 minutes, 6.25 seconds, on Saturday to break the record by more than five seconds (with a pacer for the first two-plus laps). Gregorek, after the record run streamed live on his Instagram, said he wore a pair of 100 percent cotton Levi’s.

Gregorek, the 28-year-old son of a 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser, finished 10th in the 2017 World Championships 1500m. He was sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

He ranked No. 1 in the country for the indoor mile in 2019, clocking 3:49.98. His outdoor mile personal best is 3:52.94, ranking him 30th in American history.

Before the attempt, a fundraiser was started for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, garnering more than $29,000. Gregorek ran in memory of younger brother Patrick, who died suddenly in March 2019.

“Paddy was a fan of anything silly,” Gregorek posted. “I think an all out mile in jeans would tickle him sufficiently!”

MORE: Seb Coe: Track and field needs more U.S. meets

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U.S. Open mulls no fans, group flights, coronavirus tests as decision looms

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Charter flights to ferry U.S. Open tennis players and limited entourages from Europe, South America and the Middle East to New York. Negative COVID-19 tests before traveling. Centralized housing. Daily temperature checks.

No spectators. Fewer on-court officials. No locker-room access on practice days.

All are among the scenarios being considered for the 2020 U.S. Open — if it is held at all amid the coronavirus pandemic — and described to The Associated Press by a high-ranking official at the Grand Slam tournament.

“All of this is still fluid,” Stacey Allaster, the U.S. Tennis Association’s chief executive for professional tennis, said in a telephone interview Saturday. “We have made no decisions at all.”

With that caveat, Allaster added that if the USTA board does decide to go forward with the Open, she expects it to be held at its usual site and in its usual spot on the calendar. The main draw is scheduled to start Aug. 31.

“We continue to be, I would say, 150% focused on staging a safe environment for conducting a U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on our dates. It’s all I wake up — our team wakes up — thinking about,” Allaster said. “The idea of an alternative venue, an alternative date … we’ve got a responsibility to explore it, but it doesn’t have a lot of momentum.”

An announcement should come from “mid-June to end of June,” Allaster said.

All sanctioned competition has been suspended by the ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation since March and is on hold until late July.

The French Open was postponed from May to September; Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since 1945.

There is no established COVID-19 protocol for tennis, a global sport with several governing bodies.

“Everybody would agree to the fundamental principles, I’m sure: protecting the health of participants, following the local laws and minimizing the risk of the transmission of the virus,” said Stuart Miller, who is overseeing the ITF’s return-to-tennis policy. “But then you have to get down into the specific details.”

One such detail: The USTA wants to add locker rooms — including at indoor courts that housed hundreds of temporary hospital beds at the height of New York’s coronavirus outbreak — and improve air filtration in existing spaces. Also being considered: no locker-room access until just before a match. So if anyone goes to Flushing Meadows just to train, Allaster said, “You come, you practice, and return to the hotel.”

The USTA presented its operational plan to a medical advisory group Friday; now that will be discussed with city, state and federal government officials.

MORE: Olympic tennis: Key questions for Tokyo Games in 2021

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