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Tegenkamp Gunning For National Road Racing Title

The newly minted marathoner is ready to mix it up against a stacked men's field.

The newly minted marathoner is ready to mix it up against a stacked men’s field. 

(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

ALEXANDRIA, VA — In the five weeks since finishing tenth at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Matt Tegenkamp has done all in his power to ready himself for Sunday’s inaugural .US National Road Racing Championships. Entering the 12-kilometer race, Tegenkamp finds himself atop the 2013 USA Running Circuit leaderboard, sights set on taking home both the $6,000 USARC champion’s check and race’s $20,000 first place prize.

“It should be exciting, and with the generous prize money structure, it’s brought all the top athletes together and extended their seasons,” Tegenkamp told members of the media at a press conference on Saturday. “It’s going to be a great competitive race and should be exciting for the Alexandria area and [Washington] D.C.”

RELATED: Loaded Women’s Field Will Do Battle For National Title

Before timing 2:12:28 at his marathon debut in Chicago on October 13, Tegenkamp had his eyes set on competing for the USARC and National 12K Championships titles. Knowing it would be exactly 35 days between the marathon and .US National Road Racing Championships, the 31-year-old University of Wisconsin alum prepared mentally and physically for the grueling month to come.

“It’s been a quick turnaround. I think having the mindset, knowing when this race was placed early on in the summer really helped because I’ve had that mindset pretty much the entire time, that after Chicago it’s going to be all about recovery and getting back into the swing of things,” he said.

Following the Chicago Marathon, Tegenkamp took five days completely off from running. On the sixth day, he had what he described as the “worst run I’ve ever had in my entire life.” As each day progressed, Tegenkamp felt a bit better; for the next three weeks he ran with the purpose of getting the blood moving and flushing out his system. Routinely taking ice baths, stretching, doing core exercises, and seeing physical therapists, Tegenkamp feels he is now ready to race for the win.

“I still got a good solid effort in me and am feeling good,” he assured. “The legs are underneath me and I’m ready to go for tomorrow.”

Tegenkamp explained that one major key to his fast recovery were the teammates around him. Coached by Jerry Schumacher in Portland, Ore., Tegenkamp trains among a group that includes Chris Solinsky, Evan Jager, Chris Derrick, and Lopez Lomong. Those athletes provided the energy and spark that Tegenkamp needed, he said.

“Their energy, coming off a really positive season for most of them and taking their break, they were just pumped to get back into the swing of things and that really helped get me motivated,” he said. “Having those guys around, they were just champing at the bit to get going in training [after taking time off following the track season]. Having their positive energy, even though I felt run down and stuff, I could just get in the moment and feed off their energy.”

Tomorrow, Tegenkamp may get a boost from having Solinsky on the starting line with him. Both completed much of Tegenkamp’s marathon build up together (Solinsky paced Tegenkamp in Chicago), and will take the line among a men’s field that includes Olympian Abdi Abdirahman, recent NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K third place finisher Aaron Braun, and USA marathon national champion Nick Arciniaga.

Clear on Tegenkamp’s mind, though, is the USARC standings. Currently he stands atop the leaderboard with 60 points, eight ahead of Shadrack Biwott (52) and nine up on Josphat Boit (51). In all likelihood, if Tegenkamp defeats Biwott and Boit, he will win the USARC crown (triple points are awarded here, so the winner gets 45 points). It is worth noting that both Biwott and Boit are coming off of the USA Men’s Marathon Championships, which were run on October 6 –seven days before Tegenkamp raced the Chicago Marathon.

If this year’s USARC events have proven any indication, then Tegenkamp should finish on the podium. In his five USARC races, Tegenkamp has won two national titles (USA 20K and 10K Championships) and finished third three times (National Cross Country, 25K, and 5K Championships).

“Something I’ve prided myself on has been the consistency. Certainly road racing allows me to get out and race more than the intensity of track and field did,” he said, noting that the training done under Schumacher helps also prepare him for frequent competition. “It is really hard to compete against a U.S. championship. There is something really valuable about adding that to your athletic resume. And with the athletes that are coming through the events, there is always great competition and you really truly get to test yourself.”

What would it feel like to take home both the inaugural .US National Road Racing Championships and USA Running Circuit crowns?

“I’ll let you know if it happens tomorrow,” Tegenkamp said wryly.