Flanagan shared her admiration for Jorgensen’s work ethic and dedication to the marathon, but admitted that Jorgensen may be better suited to the 5,000 and 10,000 meters than the marathon, an event which could take time to master. Jorgensen ran 15:15 for 5,000 meters in February, less six months after giving birth — a time that would put her in the mix for making the U.S. team at 5,000 meters. Only five Americans broke 15:10 this year, and one of them, Molly Huddle, likely won’t be running the 5,000 at USAs next year.
“I try to teach her patience but she’s a very driven woman,” Flanagan said of Jorgensen, who told LetsRun that she was “not happy” that she was not in 2:19 shape before Chicago — a time that only one American has ever run. “I try to remind her that I didn’t have my big breakthrough marathon until seven years from when I started and I’ve been running my entire life.”
“If I put my coach’s hat on, I’ve definitely seen more of an inclination toward her 5k/10k background,” Flanagan added, noting that Jorgensen was a “more natural fit” for those distances considering the run portion of an Olympic-distance triathlon is 10 kilometers. “It doesn’t mean she can’t become a marathoner, it just means [it might not happen] in the timeframe she wants it to. I do know she does not want to go back to the triathlon. I know she’ll stick with running, we just have to be realistic with the timeframe we’re under and what she’s capable of.”
Shalane is known to be intensely competitive, and I can't imagine that it sat well with her that someone rocked up from an entirely different sport and grabbed headlines by talking about winning Olympic Gold and not being in "2:19 shape." These achievements, by the way, would surpass everything Shalane has done in her long marathon career. More to the point, they sound incredibly presumptuous and disrespectful from someone entering the sport fresh. I know of no one, man or woman, who would get away with such statements upon entering a new sport that is known to take years to master in most cases.
Long sidetone: Whether that is just how Gwen is, or whether it was a cynical marketing gimmick to extend her brand, it has been frustrating to see the media lap it up just because Gwen has a loyal fan base from Tri. Serious running journalists should be talking straight about Gwen's chances in the marathon, not jumping on the bandwagon ("maybe she could," "maybe she will") just because there's a readership available for this silliness. And her boosters can talk all they want about how it's just a case of an amazing athlete aspiring to an ambitious goal and stating out loud what every other athlete thinks privately. I ask them, name any man or woman who has made similar statements on entering the marathon, before they've ever spent any time actually doing it. Even Gwen getting center stage with Galen after Chicago...strange. One is the best US marathoner in years; the other is a top-level club runner at this point. Where are the brave journalists calling out the absurdity and the gross misallocation of coverage? Who is raising the point that perhaps Sarah Crouch, or even Sarah Sellers, could due with some of this media attention (and the sponsorship opportunities that would come with it). Despite the number of journalists who like to b*tch about Nike, Nike will get its narrative in unchallenged, I guess.
Back to Shalane: If I were Shalane, or anyone else on the Oly team, I would be rolling my eyes at Gwen's belly flop into the deep end of the marathon pool. But Shalane has taken the high road, befriending Gwen, helping and mentoring her, etc. Most would find it hard to be so generous with their time and energy, and that is why Shalane, in my view, is one of our country's greatest athlete-personalities. Truly a class act. But now that the writing is on the wall after Chicago, I hope Gwen will follow Shalane's steer and either try a different event, or abandon the talk of Oly Gold and running 2:19, put her head down, and let her running speak for itself.