Galen Rupp returns to Boston Marathon, recalling words from 2017

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BOSTON — Soon after Galen Rupp finished second in the 2017 Boston Marathon, he found his wife, Keara, and coach, Alberto Salazar.

“I’ve got to come back here,” Rupp told them. “I want to try to win this.”

The double Olympic medalist returned to Boston, this time coming off what he said was “by far” his best preparation before any of his five marathons (he’s finished top three in each of the previous four).

He is a co-favorite with last year’s winner, Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya, on Monday morning (8:30 ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold).

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“It kind of left a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth,” finishing 21 seconds behind Kirui last year, Rupp said Friday. “Getting second, being a little dinged up.”

Last year, Rupp considered withdrawing two weeks before Boston with plantar fasciitis. This year, Rupp’s prep race was a personal-best half marathon — 59:47, four seconds off Ryan Hall‘s American record.

Rupp spoke with confidence Friday.

He learned from last year to respect the Newton Hills between miles 18 and 21, which he said “killed” him. Rupp and Kirui broke from the pack in the hills, but Kirui gapped Rupp right after them.

Rupp said all of his key workouts this year have been as fast or faster than they were before he won the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 8.

And he’s grown to revere this race, from experiencing it for the first time to being coached by the man who won the 1982 Boston Marathon “Duel in the Sun.”

“It’s the most prestigious marathon in the world,” Rupp said. “There’s nothing bigger for me than running here.”

A win Monday would change Rupp’s career. He would be introduced as Boston Marathon champion before two-time Olympic medalist, in some places. It’s not clear which he values more.

“That’s too hard to say,” said Rupp, a father of three. “That’s like saying if you can only have one child.”

Fifteen men in this field have faster personal-best times than Rupp, but that is misleading. Rupp chose twice last year to forego the chance to chase a fast time on a swift course. He picked Boston over London. Then he picked Chicago over Berlin.

“At some point, I would try to see how fast I can run from a race, going out hard at the gun,” the 31-year-old said. “I still think there’s still a lot of potential for me to run a lot faster than I have, given that all the races I’ve been in have been fairly tactical. Definitely something to do, but I’ve always put more of a priority on winning, placing, high, winning medals and championships.”

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