The calendar has yet to turn to 2012, but already we have news that may shape the U.S. Olympic team for London, as Galen Rupp was a last minute entry into the marathon trials scheduled for January 14th in Houston, Texas.
Interestingly enough Rupp will be running his first ever marathon at the Trials. He was able to enter the race because 10,000 meter and half marathon times are allowed for entry. Rupp set an American Record of 26:48.00 for 10000 last year, which is easily under the qualifying standard of 28:30, as is his half marathon time of 60:30 run at last year’s New York City Half marathon (qualifying standard of 1:05).
I find his entry very intriguing because historically America’s best marathoners have come from the ranks of 10000 meter runners. Guys like Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, and Rupp’s coach Alberto Salazar, were all 10000 meter runners who moved up to the marathon with tremendous success. That pattern holds true internationally as well, as runners like previous marathon WR setters Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrsellassie moved up to the marathon after stunning careers over 10,000 meters.
If Rupp is successful in his bid to make the team, this move could give us a marathoner capable of holding his own against the best in the world in London. Rupp brings tremendous speed to the event with his 26:48.00 10000, and he was the fastest American over the half marathon last year – a race in which he finished ahead Ryan Hall, the fastest U.S. marathoner of 2011 at 2:04.58. Of course Rupp has yet to cover the full marathon, but when your coach was himself a top 10000 meter runner AND a former American Record holder, he should be able to gauge whether or not there is potential in Rupp making a run over the full marathon distance. Having watched both the career of Salazar and now the career of Rupp, I don’t think this move was made without careful consideration and the feeling that success is a definite possibility!
So suddenly we have our first real “drama” in the selection process for the U.S. team for London – can Rupp in his debut at the distance get into that top three and make the marathon team for the Olympics, because if he does, Salazar & Rupp will have two thirds of a year to get him ready for the Big Show! And that could be one of the stories to watch over the Olympic season.