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

Meb Keflezighi
AP
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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