The international peloton is spread across Europe this week, with the first true mountain tests of the season taking place at the Volta a Catalunya, and other riders are kicking off a series of one-day classics at the Dwars door Vlaanderen in Belguim.
It's the latter of those races that provided the most intrigue Wednesday.
The field shrunk in the wake of Tuesday's terror attacks in Brussels and a somber ceremony at the start paid tribute to victims of those attacks. But once the racing began there was plenty to talk about.
The chaotic final kilometers gave way to a sprint finish that appeared to give Frenchman Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) the victory. Coquard pulled up to celebrate just before the finish line, though, and Belgian rider Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) pedaled all the way through and ended up winning by the slimmest of margins.
Skip ahead to the 2:02 mark of the video below and watch as Coquard (in black and yellow) lets go of his handlebars too soon, and then appears shocked as Debusschere (in red) nips him at the line.
Just how close was the finish? Race cameras captured the miniscule final margin.
— Mike Marino (@BikeMarino) March 23, 2016
For his part, Coquard was gracious in defeat, giving a nod to what seemed like an appropriate victory for a Belgian rider on a dark day in the country.
— Steven Drew (@stevenD105) March 23, 2016
The road cycling season is in full swing, with the peloton spread all over the map riding in early-season stage races, and preparing for the monument races and one-day classics.
Some riders, though, take their road bikes to more unusual places, such as water parks, tennis courts, loading docks, forests and train yards.
Watch below as the Global Cycling Network documents pros Danny MacAskill, Martyn Ashton and Chris Akrigg flipping, looping and wheelie-ing their way through those places and more on bikes meant for the pavement.
Millions of people spend part of each day running, whether around a track or over the roads or along trails.
However, relatively few take on the challenge of preparing for and running ultra races, those 100-mile treks that are in many ways the ultimate tests of physical and mental endurance.
Watch below as some of the top ultra runners in the world -- including six-time Skyrunner World Series champ Kilian Jornet, seven-time Western States 100 winner Scott Jurek, and three-time Hardrock 100 champion Darcy Piceu -- describe what they consider a spiritual experience, and the bond between runners and nature.
The spring cycling season is well underway in Europe, and the early dates on the calendar are proving problematic for riders and organizers at the Paris-Nice stage race.
Stage 3 through Beaujolais wine country was to feature seven climbs, but snow and cold greeted riders at the start and then caused the peloton to be neutralized about halfway through the stage and sent ahead to a new starting point.
Conditions continued to deteriorate and the stage was eventually canceled altogether. The race will resume Thursday with a 195.5km ride from Julienas to Romans-sur-Isere, with more wet and cold weather forecast.
— Paris-Nice (@ParisNice) March 9, 2016
The weather led to scenes one might expect at the Winter Olympics rather than an elite road race.
— Tinkoff (@tinkoff_team) March 9, 2016
— Cycling Weekly (@cyclingweekly) March 9, 2016
— francetv sport (@francetvsport) March 9, 2016
— ProCyclingStats.com (@ProCyclingStats) March 9, 2016
Most riders had fun with the situation and applauded the decision to scrap the stage, though many also wondered why there wasn't a backup plan in place or why the race is held at this early date at all.
— Marcus Burghardt (@MBurghardt83) March 9, 2016
A shame with all the technology we have nobody can make a decision be4 the stage as our team knew that there will be snow at the feeding
— Andre Greipel (@AndreGreipel) March 9, 2016
The riders are plenty tough enough to handle the snow. Not an issue. Issue is the bikes don't have snow tires for the descents.
— Jonathan Vaughters (@Vaughters) March 9, 2016
Anyway, good that they cancelled the stage. I think esp in a stage race that decision is very important for the remainder of the race.
— Marcel Kittel (@marcelkittel) March 9, 2016
Maybe there was another road we could have taken to get to the finish, that didn't go as high? And we could have raced #justathought
— Geraint Thomas (@GeraintThomas86) March 9, 2016
Great we have an extreme weather protocol now but how about we just move the whole calendar back 1 month. I hear April in France is lovely.
— Dan Martin (@DanMartin86) March 9, 2016
Organizers announced on Tuesday the full field for the 2016 Tour of California, the largest stage race in North America, including 10 UCI World Tour teams among the 18 teams in the men's field, and 19 women's teams competing in an overlapping four-day race.
On the men's side, Tinkoff sprinter Peter Sagan will return to defend his 2015 title, along with fellow podium finishers Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step) and Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data-Qhubeka), who won four stages at last year's Tour of California.
"Last season was an incredible one for me," said Sagan, who also won the world road championships last fall. "The Amgen Tour of California is one of my favorite races of the season; I've done well and had the honor of wearing yellow, and it's important to me to build upon where I left off last year."
Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) will be a favorite at the Folsom Time Trial, thanks in part to his record average time-trial speed (55.4 kilometers per hour) during Stage 1 of last year's Tour de France. Team Katusha, currently ranked second in the world, will bring top sprinter Alexander Kristoff to California, after Kristoff had several head-to-head battles with Cavendish at the Tour of Oman earlier this year.
Other notable names in the field include California-based Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) and 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, who will be at the Tour of California with his namesake team as part of preparation for the Rio Olympics.
A full rundown of the entire field, which will ride nearly 800 total miles from May 15-22:
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (USA)
Etixx–Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (BEL)
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka (RSA)
Team Giant–Alpecin (GER)
Team KATUSHA (RUS)
Team Lotto NL–Jumbo (NED)
Team Sky (GBR)
UCI Professional Continental Teams
Direct Énergie (FRA)
Team Novo Nordisk (USA)
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)
UCI Continental Teams
Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team (USA)
Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team p/b Hincapie Sportswear (USA)
Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis (USA)
Rally Cycling (USA)
Team WIGGINS (GBR)
The women's race -- the first stage race of the inaugural Women's World Tour -- will run from May 19-22 and include some of the top names in the sport, including American Evelyn Stevens (Twenty16-Ridebiker), who set a new UCI women's hour record last week by riding 47.98 kilometers. Stevens also won the Tour of California in 2013.
Fellow Americans Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans), reigning U.S. road-race champion and 2015 world bronze medalist, and Kristin Armstrong (Twenty16-Ridebiker), the most decorated woman in American cycling history, will also take part.
“The Women's WorldTour is coming to home soil, and I couldn't be more excited. This amazing opportunity will showcase women’s cycling on the biggest stage in our sport ... just three months before Rio,” said Armstrong, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in Time Trial and a hopeful for the 2016 Rio team.
The women's teams in attendance will be:
- BePink (ITA)
- Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team (NED)
- Canyon/SRAM Racing (GER)
- Colavita | Bianchi p/b Vittoria Women’s UCI Pro Team (USA)
- Cylance Pro Cycling (USA)
- Drops Cycling Team (GBR)
- Hagens Berman | Supermint Pro Cycling Team (USA)
- Hitec Products (NOR)
- Podium Ambition Pro Cycling p/b Club La Santa (GBR)
- Rabo-Liv Women Cycling Team (NED)
- Rally Cycling (USA)
- Team TIBCO-SVB (USA)
- Twenty16–Ridebiker (USA)
- UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)
- USA Cycling (USA)
- Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling (USA)
- Weber Shimano Ladies Power (ARG)
- Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling (GBR)
Meb Keflezighi will contend for a spot on the U.S. Olympic marathon team on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. Here are some fast facts about him.
Marathon PR: 2:08:37 (Boston, 2014)
Best trials qualifier: 2:08:37 (Boston, 2014)
Most recent marathon: seventh, 2:13:32, New York, Nov. 1, 2015
Residence: San Diego, California
Age on race day: 40
Previous Olympic trials results: 2000 -- first, 10,000 meters; 2004 -- first, 10,000 meters and second, marathon; 2008 -- eighth, marathon and 13th, 10,000 meters; 2012 -- first, marathon
Trials outlook: In 2012, Keflezighi was the oldest man to ever win the Olympic marathon trials. Four years later, remarkably, he finds himself in position to repeat that feat at 40. His experience and ability to execute in a championship-style race are enviable credentials that the majority of his competitors can’t match -- and he comes into the trials with the fastest qualifying time.
It’s been 12 years since Keflezighi won the silver medal in the marathon at the Athens Games. Since then, he’s checked off every other item on his career to-do list. Win the New York City Marathon? Done, in 2009. Win the Boston Marathon? Yes, in 2014. Break 2:09? Also checked off at the 2014 Boston Marathon. Nobody can rise to the big occasions like Keflezighi, who also finished fourth at the 2012 Olympics.
Like every other major contender at the trials this year, Keflezighi will need to come to the starting line in perfect health and have a flawless day to land in the top three. Galen Rupp (who won the 2012 Olympic silver medal in the 10,000 meters and is running his first-ever marathon this weekend) and Dathan Ritzenhein, who has a 2:07:47 personal best, will likely be his primary concerns. Right on their heels are another 10 or so men who could sneak into the mix and knock one of these favorites off the team. The temperatures are forecast to be in the 70s during the race, which may play to Keflezighi’s advantage -- he’s had several quality marathons in hotter conditions.
Noted for putting as much time into stretching, physical therapy, strength training and recovery as he does into actual running, Keflezighi said last week that he’s injury-free and ready to race. During the years, the masters-aged runner has learned to listen to his body and take days off instead of pushing through fatigue or pain.
“I’m counting on those miles that I’ve run over the years to carry me through,” he said, not long after competing at the 2015 New York City Marathon. “I just got to be healthy. If I’m healthy I can come back faster and have a good show.”
With so many accolades and accomplishments already on his résumé, why is Keflezighi going for one last shot at the Games? He wants to give his three daughters a final Olympic memory of their father’s career. Saturday will be an emotionally-driven effort not just for the athlete, but for his long-standing support team that includes his wife, Yordanos, his brother and agent, Hawi, and Bob Larsen, his coach of 22 years.
Most of his family, including his parents and 10 siblings, live in the San Diego area, so he’ll find plenty of on-course encouragement Saturday, too.
“I think I will have a lot of supporters -- it should be exciting,” Keflezighi said. “I don’t want them all at one place, though. I want them all spread out. I’m very interactive with the crowd.”
On Saturday, we’ll find out if experience indeed trumps youth.
Fun fact: Keflezighi discovered his running talent in seventh grade, when he ran a 5:20 mile in gym class so he could get an A. Even back then, people said he would be an Olympian.
“My yearbook is filled up with, ‘Hey, we’ll see you win medals; see you on TV; see you in the Olympics,’” Keflezighi said.
Shalane Flanagan will contend for a spot on the U.S. Olympic marathon team on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. Here are some fast facts about her.
Marathon PR: 2:21:14 (Berlin, 2014)
Best trials qualifier: 2:21:14 (Berlin, 2014)
Most recent marathon: ninth place, 2:27:47, Boston, 4/20/15
Residence: Portland, Oregon
Age on race day: 34
Previous Olympic trials results: 2004: third in the 5,000 meters and sixth in the 1500 meters; 2008: third in the 5,000 meters and first in the 10,000 meters; 2012: first in the marathon and third in the 10,000 meters.
Trials outlook: Flanagan is the fastest qualifier by nearly three minutes, and she is the marathon trials defending champion. If she makes it -- barring catastrophe, there’s no reason she shouldn't -- it will be her fourth Olympics, and Flanagan has hinted that at age 34, this could be her last, so she’ll leave nothing to chance in her quest to finish in the top three in Los Angeles.
After a disappointing performance at the 2015 Boston Marathon, Flanagan and her coach, Jerry Schumacher, decided to revert back to the training schedule she followed in 2014, which led to a 2:22:02 in Boston and her PR of 2:21:14 in Berlin. It’s a simple approach, with one workout per week of shorter, faster intervals and a long run that includes marathon and 10K-effort pace work.
Flanagan will schedule her departure from high altitude -- she has been training in Flagstaff, Arizona -- for optimal adjustment to sea level. In 2015, she arrived in Boston several days before the race and felt flat. This time, Flanagan plans to arrive at sea level with two days to spare.
“There’s a weird period where you might not feel so good, but if I come down within 48 hours [of the race], I feel great,” she said. “[Boston 2015] was not a good indicator of my training. I was in an altitude funk period, and I raced on it, and it was a big mistake on our part.”
The buildup to these trials got off to a suboptimal start when Flanagan discovered a stress reaction in her foot that forced cross-training and physical therapy for a couple weeks. She also had back and Achilles pain early in the training cycle. With all that now behind her, she is confident that in 10 weeks of training, she has put in the mileage and work to be successful.
“It kind of makes it even more exciting if you can get it done under those kinds of circumstances,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan trained with Amy Cragg, her new Bowerman Track Club teammate, who placed fourth at the 2012 marathon trials and competed at the London Games in the 10,000 meters. The duo will be a force Feb. 13, and without a doubt, their competitors will be watching their collaboration carefully, along with the moves of Desiree Linden, who is the second-fastest qualifier with a 2:23:54. In fact, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see Linden, Flanagan and Cragg make up the 2016 U.S. Olympic marathon team.
“[Amy and I] don’t care if we’re first, second or third. We just want to be on the team,” Flanagan said. “We don’t know yet, but we’re in a good enough place that if Amy and I felt like it was in our best interest to work together in the race -- like if it is time to make a move at some point -- I feel like we feel confident in our abilities to do that.”
Fun fact: Cragg and Flanagan have a mutual love of animals. Each considers her pets to be more like her children at this point.
“We are obsessed with our pets, for sure,” said Flanagan, who dressed her cat, Shubie, in a pumpkin sweater for Halloween.
She and her coach also like to watch birds while running.
“We are always looking for birds,” she said. “When you’re outside a lot, it’s actually a really cool thing.”
Jared Ward will contend for a spot on the U.S. Olympic marathon team on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. Here are some fast facts about him.
Marathon PR: 2 hours, 12 minutes, 56 seconds (Los Angeles, 2015)
Best trials qualifier: 2:12:56 (Los Angeles, 2015)
Most recent marathon: third place, 2:12:56, Los Angeles, 3/15/15
Residence: Provo, Utah
Age on race day: 27
Previous Olympic trials results: None
Trials outlook: Ward is no stranger to the streets of Los Angeles or to the hot weather the region can experience. Last year, he won the U.S. championships at the L.A. Marathon in 2:12:56 while temperatures reached the mid-80s.
Training in Provo, Utah, under his Brigham Young University coach Ed Eyestone (a two-time Olympic marathoner), Ward’s qualifying time might not separate him much from a dozen other men of the same caliber. But Ward has proven he can compete successfully under adverse conditions.
In addition to claiming the U.S. marathon title last year, he took first at the U.S. 25K and 20K championships and was second in the half-marathon. He can contend in tactical races, though he is training for pace and said he believes it will take a 2:09–2:10 to make the Olympic team.
“The marathon is funny because the nature of it becomes more of a war of attrition,” he said. “If I can come into this marathon well-prepared, then I go and put my head in there and stay up with the front as long as I can and see what happens.”
Ward’s preparations have been on point, he said, and he is ready to take his swing at a top-three podium position. We wouldn’t count him out, and neither should his competitors.
Fun fact: Ward is a true student of the sport. In April, he earned his master’s degree in statistics from BYU. His thesis was titled, “Optimal Pace Strategy in a Marathon.”
Desiree Linden will contend for a spot on the U.S. Olympic marathon team on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. Here are some fast facts about her.
Marathon PR: 2 hours, 22 minutes, 38 seconds (Boston, 2011)
Best trials qualifier: 2:23:54 (Boston, 2014)
Most recent marathon: fourth, 2:25:39, Boston, April 20
Residence: Rochester Hills, Michigan
Age on race day: 32
Previous Olympic trials results: 13th, 2008 marathon; second, 2012 marathon
Trials outlook: Linden has earned a reputation as a gritty, tough runner on the marathon circuit, and for good reason. Her no-nonsense, let-my-performances-speak-for-themselves attitude has taken her to the top of the field, leaving fans with many memorable performances -- most notably at the 2011 Boston Marathon, where she finished second by just two seconds after a sprint finish down Boylston Street. She comes into the trials with the second-fastest marathon qualifying time of 2:23:54, behind only Shalane Flanagan’s 2:21:14.
Linden, who made the 2012 London Games in the marathon but dropped out during the race due to injury, seems ready to move out of that runner-up position. She’s indicated that in Los Angeles she’s going for the win, not merely a spot on the Olympic team.
“I would love to be on a second Olympic team,” she said. “And I’ve never won a U.S. championship, so that would be really fantastic.”
Behind Flanagan and Linden are a few competitors who could disrupt the predictions. Amy Cragg (2:27:03), Deena Kastor (2:27:47), and Kara Goucher (who was on the 2012 team and has recently illustrated she’s approaching her previous levels of fitness), all have the experience to be in the top three. Five other women are poised for breakthroughs that could take the veterans by surprise.
But, calling Linden a shoo-in? She doesn’t buy it.
“That’s a silly thing to say from an athlete’s perspective. Going into the Olympics last time, I thought I was ready for a fantastic race. Then a couple weeks out, everything flipped upside down and I could barely move,” she said. “The marathon is a tricky event ... I think that people are considering me a favorite demonstrates that I’ve gotten the job done before and I’m someone who knows how to do it.”
That being said, if Linden doesn’t make the team, it would be considered a major upset. The odds are in her favor that come August, she’ll be Rio-bound.
Fun fact: Linden is a whiskey connoisseur who owns a collection of the finest. “If I make the team, I’ll probably have to open one of the nice bottles of Pappy Van Winkle bourbons and cheers with that,” she said.
Editor's note: The following profile originally appeared at Runnersworld.com
Dathan Ritzenhein will contend for a spot on the U.S. Olympic marathon team on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. Here are some fast facts about him.
Marathon PR: 2:07:47 (Chicago, 2012)
Best trials qualifier: 2:09:45 (Chicago, 2013)
Most recent marathon: seventh (2:11:50), Boston, April 19, 2015
Residence: Rockford, Michigan
Age on race day: 33
Previous Olympic trials results: 2004: 22nd, 10,000 meters; 2008: second, marathon and eighth, 10,000 meters; 2012: fourth, marathon and third, 10,000 meters
Trials outlook: It was difficult to watch Ritzenhein cross the 2012 Olympic marathon trials finish line in fourth place. He couldn’t hide his disappointment, dropping to the ground, covering his face, in tears. And while he did make it to the London Games to compete in the 10,000 meters, it left unfinished marathon business for "Ritz," as his fans call him, over these past four years.
Since then, the 2:07 marathoner has made substantial changes in his life. He, his wife and his two children left Portland, Oregon, where Ritzenhein was training with the Oregon Project under coach Alberto Salazar. They moved back to Michigan to be closer to family, and Ritz now coaches himself. The keen observer has noticed a more light-hearted, seemingly happier athlete as a result, which only bodes well for his chances to make the marathon team going to Rio this summer.
The obstacle that Ritz constantly faces is his injury-prone body. After the 2015 Boston Marathon in April, where he finished as the first American ahead of Meb Keflezighi, he suffered some calf and shin problems. During his marathon trials buildup, he faced a hip injury that he says has healed.
While Ritzenhein and Keflezighi appear on paper to be the hands-down favorites to make the team, the late entry of Galen Rupp, who is debuting at the distance, will likely throw predictions off. The chemistry of the men’s race keeps evolving, with 2012 Olympians Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman withdrawing; athletes like Rupp, Diego Estrada, and Sam Chelanga running their first marathons; and 10 other men capable of clocking a 2:10 or 2:11 toeing the line.
To finish in the top three, Ritzenhein will need experience to play heavily into his chances -- and like all of his competitors, he’ll need a flawless day in Los Angeles to earn the trip to Rio, which would be his fourth Olympic team.
“I know those feelings and the anticipation and all that. And going in, it gives me confidence knowing I’ve done it before and you just have to want it,” Ritzenhein says. “I mean, everyone wants it on the line, but you can’t fake it once you get past 20 miles. That fire and desire have to be there and if it’s not, it shows.”
Fun fact: Ritzenhein will seek red meat and get his carbohydrates in adult beverage form after the race is over. “If it goes great and I make the team, me and my wife will probably go out to a steakhouse,” he says. “Yup. A big steak and a nice, tall beer. That would be great.”
Kara Goucher will contend for a spot on the U.S. Olympic marathon team on Feb. 13, 2016, at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles. Here are some fast facts about her.
Marathon PR: 2:24:52 (Boston, 2011)
Best trials qualifier: 2:37:03 (New York City, 2014)
Most recent marathon: 14th, 2:37:03, New York City, Nov. 2, 2014
Residence: Boulder, Colorado
Age on race day: 37
Previous Olympic trials results: third, 2012 marathon; second, 2008 10,000 meters; first, 2008 5,000 meters
Trials outlook: Since placing 11th at the 2012 London Olympic marathon, Goucher has changed everything. She moved from the Bowerman Track Club in Portland, Oregon, to Boulder, Colorado, returning to her college coaches Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs.
She is no longer sponsored by Nike, but by Oiselle and Skechers Performance. She’s had knee surgery and diet changes, and controversy regarding the summer when she and other former Oregon Project athletes and staff accused her former coach, Alberto Salazar, of acting unethically when it comes to prescription drug use. (Salazar denies the allegations.)
Amid all the transitions and turmoil, the most recent marathon she raced was New York in 2014, where she finished in 2:37:03 -- way off of her best performances. Goucher recently wrote in a blog entry that the Olympic Trials are “literally a last chance for me,” and that she feels she is in the kind of shape she was in before her son, Colt, was born in 2010.
In November, she won the Big Sur half marathon in 1:11:13, and in December she claimed victory at the San Antonio Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon in 1:11:10, indicating she is fit enough to contend for a top-three finish at the trials. Goucher is among approximately 10 women who appear to be on the threshold to compete for the third spot on the Olympic team behind overwhelming favorites Shalane Flanagan and Desiree Linden. Should she make it, this would be Goucher’s third trip to the Games.
“It’s really just not being intimidated, because it’s been a really long and lonely four years since the last Olympics, but I’m still the same athlete I was four years ago,” Goucher says. “Who knows? Maybe I’m even a little bit better because I’ve had more consistent training for once.”
Fun fact: In the past year, Goucher has experimented with her diet and moved toward a more plant-based nutrition plan. She’s had help from Lottie Bildirici, a health coach and nutrition counselor who temporarily relocated from New York to Boulder to prepare meals for Goucher during the lead-up to the trials.
Ending weeks of speculation, reigning Olympic 10,000-meter silver medalist Galen Rupp announced Thursday that he’ll be making his marathon debut at the U.S. Olympic trials on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles.
Rupp qualified for the race on Dec. 13, winning the Foot Traffic Holiday Half Marathon in Portland, Ore., in 1 hour, 1 minute, 20 seconds -- well under the U.S. Olympic trials "B" standard of 1:05:00.
"I’m really happy and excited to announce that I’ll be running the Olympic Trials coming up in February, in the marathon," Rupp said in an exclusive announcement on USATF.TV.
The 29-year-old Rupp, who trains as a member of Alberto Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project, said that the 10,00 meters will still be his primary focus for 2016. He’ll attempt to make the Olympic team in the marathon in an effort to give him more flexibility in regard to which events he’d like to race at this summer’s Games in Rio.
"The 10K is still my primary focus but I’m excited about the possibility of doing that and the marathon or that and the 5K," said Rupp, who also ran the 5,000 meters for the U.S. in London, where he finished seventh.
Rupp, who finished fifth in both the 10,000 and 5,000 at last summer’s world championships, has captured seven straight national titles in the 10,000 and holds the American record of 26:44.36 in the event. In the 5,000, Rupp has won one national title and is one of only a handful of Americans to have broken 13 minutes (12:58.90) for the 12.5-lap race.
At global championships since 2009, he has finished eighth or better five times in the 10,000, while in the 5,000 he has four top-10 finishes to his name.
Salazar, the former three-time New York City Marathon champion and Boston Marathon champion who has coached Rupp since he was 16 years old, brought up the idea of the marathon out of the blue after the disappointment of last year’s world championships in Beijing.
"After this last summer it kind of came up in conversation with Alberto,” explained Rupp, whose 60:30 half-marathon personal best is the fifth-fastest U.S. time in history. "He just said to keep an open mind with it. We’re not going to commit to anything ... it took me a little while to wrap my head around it.
"It’s definitely a new challenge and it’s a little daunting just because I’ve never done it before. It’s such a big step up in distance but I’m really excited to give it a shot and I think with everything we’ve done to prepare me that it’s going to turn out alright."
Rupp will face a formidable field in L.A., including defending trials champion and 2014 Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi, four-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman, Dathan Ritzenhein (Rupp’s former Oregon Project training partner and top American finisher in Boston in 2014), and reigning U.S. marathon champion Jared Ward, among others.
Ryan Hall, the Olympic trials marathon record-holder (2:09:02) who made the previous two Olympic teams in the marathon, announced his retirement earlier this month.
"It’s always tough in an Olympic year," said Rupp, who still plans to run the world indoor championships March 18-20 in Portland. "It’s way harder than a normal year because everybody ups their game and they definitely want to make the Olympic team, too. There’s obviously going to be a lot of challenges.
"There’s some great athletes in the field, guys that certainly have a lot more experience than I do in running a marathon. I know it’s going to be tough and I always say I have to respect the distance, respect the competition because it’s not going to be easy. Those guys have been so great for so long and they’re there for a reason and they’re definitely going to make it tough."
The road-racing season is in full swing after a pair of recent stage races, which means everyone's favorite journeyman is back to document the action.
Phil Gaimon accompanied his Ride Argyle/Cannondale teammates to Argentina for the Tour de San Luis, where the heat was brutal and the crashes were heavy.
Luckily for you, Gaimon narrated his return to the WorldTour -- including the fallout from a nasty wreck and the team's early-morning return to the U.S. -- through social media.
In a surprise announcement, two-time Olympian Ryan Hall has said he is retiring from professional running just four weeks ahead of the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles.
Hall cited chronically low testosterone levels as the reason in a New York Times story announcing the decision.
The 33-year-old Hall, who nine years ago set a still-standing American record of 59:43 at the Armco Houston Half Marathon, where his wife Sara will compete this Sunday, made the announcement in a New York Times story. The Halls have been sponsored by the shoe and apparel brand Asics since graduating from Stanford University in 2005.
“The last four years certainly have been very trying,” Hall admitted to Competitor last October.
“The last Olympic Trials cost me four years of struggle as I got plantar fasciitis about a month before the trials and ran through the trials with it. Then I trained for the Olympics with plantar fasciitis, which resulted in my stride changing and an endless chain of injury after injury.”
Hall, who won the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in New York in an event-record time of 2:09:02 and finished second to Meb Keflezighi at the 2012 Trials in Houston, dropped out of the 2012 Olympic Marathon with a hamstring injury. Laden with injuries and illness in recent years, Hall hasn’t finished a marathon since placing 20th at Boston in 2014, where he ran 2:17:50.
The Halls live in Redding, Calif., with their four daughters -- Hana, Mia, Jasmine and Lily -- adopted last September from Ethiopia.
The elite professionals running the 2016 Boston Marathon were announced Wednesday, with defending champions Lelisa Desisa and Caroline Rotich joining former winners Geoffrey Mutai and Wesley Korir in a stacked field.
In all, the 120th running of the Boston Marathon will feature six men with personal bests under 2 hours, 5 minutes and 10 who have run under 2:06.
That group includes Kenyan runners Desisa and Mutai and expected challengers Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) and Wilson Chebet (Kenya), who finished second and third, respectively, last year in Boston.
Chicago Marathon runner-up Sammy Kitwara (Kenya) and 2014 Dubai Marathon champion Tsegaye Mekonnen (Ethiopia) have the second- and third-fastest personal bests in the field, respectively, and will make their Boston debuts this year.
Elite U.S. men include Ian Burrell, the top American at the World Marathon Championships, and 2014 U.S. 20K champion Girma Mecheso, who is making his Boston debut.
On the women's side, Rotich will take on 10 other runners with personal bests faster than 2:24, including 2012 Olympic Marathon gold medalist Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia, who is seeking a spot on her country's 2016 Olympic team in her Boston debut.
Buzunesh Deba (Ethiopia) returns to Boston after finishing second there in 2014 and third last year. Deba has won total marathons on U.S. soil, and is joined among the challengers by fellow Ethiopian and former Boston Athletic Association 10K and half-marathon champion Tirfi Tsegaye; three-time Olympian and two-time NYC Marathon winner Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia); and 2014 Amsterdam and Honolulu winner Joyce Chekkirui.