Galen Rupp has Feb. 13 circled on his calendar and so should anyone who follows the elite American running scene.
That’s when the 29-year-old two-time U.S. Olympian might make his marathon debut if all goes as planned this weekend and in the coming weeks. Of course, it wouldn’t be just any marathon, it would be the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles. The top three finishers will earn a spot on the U.S. team that will compete in the Olympic marathon on Aug. 21 in Rio de Janeiro.
In what is sure to throw an interesting wrinkle into pre-Olympic Trials prognostications, Rupp will run the Foot Traffic Holiday Half Marathon on Dec. 13 in Portland, Ore., with the intent of securing a qualifying time for the Olympic Trials Marathon. He and Salazar had toyed with the idea of Rupp running the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon on Dec. 6, but that plan changed to allow Rupp time to attend the Nike Cross Nationals high school cross country championships on Dec. 5 in Portland and avoid traveling to a race.
Rupp’s coach Alberto Salazar did not wish to comment about it, but Rupp is expected to run on Sunday morning in Portland.
Rupp will need to run 1:05:00 or faster to secure a “B” standard qualifying time to gain entry to the Olympic Trials race, but that shouldn’t be a problem given that he’s run 1:00:30 (the fifth fastest in U.S. history) at the NYC Half Marathon in 2011 and is the American record-holder in the 10,000-meter run with the 26:44.36 personal best he ran at the 2014 Prefontaine Classic meet in Eugene, Ore.
Rupp is the only American runner and one of only a handful in the world to ever break 13:00 for the 5,000m, 27:00 for the 10,000m and 1:01 for the half marathon.
To date, 27 runners have qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials by running faster than the 2:15:00 “A” standard in the marathon, while 46 more have run at least 2:18:00 to earn the “B” standard. An additional 95 runners have run 1:05 or better to earn the “B” standard in the half marathon. (There is no “A” standard in the half marathon.)
Although Salazar has said previously that Rupp wouldn’t move up to the marathon until after the 2016 Olympics, that thinking might have changed sometime after last summer’s track season ended. After earning the silver medal in the 10,000 at the 2012 London Olympics, Rupp has placed fourth (2013) and fifth (2015) at the past two IAAF World Championships.
“You move up when you feel you’ve sort of plateaued at the lower distance,” Salazar told RunnersWorld.com in 2012, “and only when you feel you’re not a medalist at the shorter distance” any more.
If Rupp were to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic team in the marathon at the Feb. 13 Trials in Los Angeles, he could attempt to double in the 10,000-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Trials on the track in early July. The Olympic 10,000-meter final is scheduled for Aug. 13, eight days before the marathon.
Rupp has won seven straight U.S. titles in the 10,000m and has finished eighth or higher at the world championships and Olympics five times since 2009. He also has four top-10 international finishes in the 5,000m, including a seventh-place showing at the 2012 Olympics.
Before turning pro in 2009, Rupp was a five-time NCAA champion and record-setting collegiate runner for Oregon. Rupp has been coached by Salazar since he was in high school in Portland, Ore. He won five state high school titles in Oregon between 2002-2004, was the 2003 Pan Am junior champion in the 5,000 and set new American high school records for the 3,000 and 5,000 in 2004.
Here’s a look at how the top 10,000-meter runners in U.S. history have fared in the half marathon and marathon. (Runners ranked by 10,000 times. Runners without half marathon or marathon times were excluded from the list.)
Name 5,000 10,000 half marathon marathon
Galen Rupp 12:58.90 26:44.36* 1:00:30 N/A
Meb Keflezighi 13:11.77# 27:13.98# 1:01:00 2:08:37
Diego Estrada 13:15.33 27:30.53 1:00:51 N/A
Abdi Abdirahman 13:13.32 27:16.99 1:00:29 2:08:56
Mark Nenow 13:18.54 27:20.56# N/A 2:14:21
Dathan Ritzehein 12:56.27# 27:22.28 1:00:00 2:07:47
Bobby Curtis 13:18.97 27:24.67 1:01:53 2:11:20
Alberto Salazar 13:11.93# 27:25.61# N/A 2:08:52#
Matt Tegenkamp 12:58.56 27:28.22 1:02:04 2:12:39
Tim Nelson 13:20.33 27:28.19 1:02:11 2:14:09
Craig Virgin 13:19.1 27:29.16# N/A 2:10:26
Todd Williams 13:19.50 27:31.34 1:00:11 2:11:17
Alan Culpepper 13:25.75 27:33.93 N/A 2:09.41
Ed Eyestone 13:32.52 27:41.05 N/A 2:10:59
Dan Browne 13:16.02 27:42.19 1:03:09 2:11.35
Paul Cummings 13:19.62 27:43.7 1:01:32 2:11:31
Khalid Khannouchi 13:41.60 27:45 (road) 1:00:27 2:05:38
Frank Shorter 13:26.62 27:45.91 N/A 2:10:30
Ryan Hall 13:16.03 28:07.93 59:43* 2:04:58**
Mark Curp N/A 28:09 (road) 1:00:55# 2:11:45
# = former American record
* = current American record
** = American road best
N/A = no time at that distance