Olympic 10,000m silver medalist Galen Rupp will make his marathon debut at the U.S. Olympic marathon trials on Feb. 13.
“It came up a little sooner than I would have thought,” Rupp said of his marathon debut in a USATF.TV interview. “For a long time, it was always … after the Olympics this summer, then I would really start to look at [the marathon] more. After this last summer, it kind of came up in conversations with [coach] Alberto [Salazar].”
Rupp, 29, qualified for the Olympic trials at a half marathon Dec. 13, his first time racing that long of a distance in more than four years. NBC Sports will have live coverage of the trials in Los Angeles.
He said he still plans to race the 10,000 meters this spring with the potential of contesting both the 10,000m and the marathon at the Rio Olympics.
“I would say that the 10k is still my primary focus,” said Rupp, who would have to make the Olympic track team at those trials in Eugene, Ore., from July 1-10. “Really, it just comes down to what I think I have a better chance in as a second event, whether that’s the 5k or the marathon.”
At the Olympics, the 10,000m is Aug. 13. The 5000m is Aug. 17 (heats) and Aug. 20 (final). The marathon is Aug. 21, the final day of the Games.
Rupp’s 1:01:20 half marathon Dec. 13 ranked second among U.S. men for 2015, behind U.S. champion Diego Estrada, who is expected to make his 26.2-mile debut at the marathon trials.
“Galen wants to keep all his options open,” Salazar said in December, according to Runner’s World. “No commitments one way or the other.”
Rupp previously signed up for the 2012 U.S. Olympic marathon trials — also, reportedly, because he wanted to keep his options open — with a qualifying time from the March 2011 New York City half marathon (1:00:30).
But Rupp withdrew one week before the Jan. 14, 2012, marathon trials.
Many have wondered when Rupp would make his marathon debut. And how he would fare.
“It’s a little daunting,” Rupp said in the USATF.TV interview published Thursday. “It obviously is a little risky. I’ve always been a 5k/10k guy.”
He’s long been best at the 10,000m, making the Beijing 2008 team in the second-longest running event on the Olympic program, breaking the American record in 2011 (and again in 2014) and taking that 2012 Olympic silver medal.
The Olympic marathon trials favorite is Meb Keflezighi, a 40-year-old who owns an Olympic silver medal and Boston and New York marathon victories.
The other top contender, three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, dealt with a hip injury in the fall and didn’t contest a Dec. 13 relay race with other men’s and women’s marathon hopefuls.
The top three at the trials will make the Rio Olympic team.
“Guys that certainly have a lot more experience than I do in running a marathon,” Rupp said, not about specific runners but the field. “They’ve been so great for so long. They’re there for a reason. They’re going to make it tough.”
Rupp’s goal is Olympic gold, and his best shot to do so may still be in the 10,000m.
Rupp followed the Olympic 10,000m silver by finishing fourth at the 2013 World Championships and fifth at this past summer’s Worlds. Training partner Mo Farah won all of those races and appears an overwhelming favorite to repeat in Rio.
“I was really disappointed to finish fifth,” Rupp said in November of his 27:08.91 time in Beijing on Aug. 22. “If that had been six years ago, I would’ve broken the American record in 90-degree heat, basically. So I ran really, really solidly, I thought, but sometimes you can’t control what place you get.”
He’s focused offseason training on paying more attention to his diet, yoga and upper-body stretches.
“Say I had gotten second or third, gotten my medal in Beijing, I would’ve maybe been a little disappointed, but we would’ve been, hey, we’re still right there,” Rupp said in November. “Maybe we wouldn’t have found all those other things [to work on].”