Meb Keflezighi Discusses His Rough Buildup Ahead of His Final Boston Marathon, Plus More From the Elite Men At Friday’s Press Conference

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By LetsRun.com
April 14, 2017

BOSTON — Boston Marathon race week is in full swing, and on Friday the elite athletes were all at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, just a few hard strides from the finish line, to talk about Monday’s big race. Considering the media availability lasts for only aobut an hour, it’s impossible to talk to everyone. We managed to speak to many of the top U.S. and international pros (apologies, Jared Ward) and learned a lot. Read on to find out why Meb Keflezighi‘s buildup was one of the worst of his career (and why that isn’t necessarily a bad thing), how Luke Puskedra intends to make up for his poor showing in Chicago last fall and news from the top Kenyans.

Our insights from Galen Rupp, fastest entrant Emmanuel Mutai (2:03:13 pb) and the top American and international women, including Desi LindenJordan Hasay and race favorite Gladys Cherono, are in separate articles, linked below.

2017 Boston Marathon Friday press conference coverage

*LRC A Smiling Galen Rupp Says He’s Been Pain-Free Since the Prague Half Marathon — “It’s Just Been Such a Weight Lifted Off My Shoulders”
*LRC Desi Linden Is All-In, Alberto Salazar Says Jordan Hasay Is Totally Prepared & More From the Elite Women in Boston
*RRW If Emmanuel Mutai Finishes The Boston Marathon On Monday, He’ll Be The First Person To Have Run All 8 Majors Mutai, who has won nearly $1.5 million in prize money during his career, is basically guaranteed to be a winner as long as he finishes on Monday, but the 2:03:13 man also thinks he can actually win the race, “I’m looking forward to winning.”

 

More 2017 Boston Marathon coverage
U.S. Women’s Preview: Can Desi Linden End the U.S. Major Drought? How Will Jordan Hasay Fare in Her Debut?
Full Women’s Preview: 2017 Boston Marathon International Women’s Preview
Galen Rupp: Why Galen Rupp Will (& Won’t) Win The 2017 Boston Marathon
American Men: 2017 Boston Marathon U.S. Men’s Preview: Olympians Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi, Jared Ward & Abdi Abdirahman Headline a Stacked Field
Full Men’s Preview: 2017 Boston Marathon International Men’s Preview: Lemi Berhanu Hayle Goes For the Repeat Against a Field That Contains 5 Sub-2:05 Guys

LRC All 2017 Boston Marathon coverage * Race website * 2016 LRC coverage

Meb Keflezighi has had a rough buildup, but he’s trying to stay positive, and his last month has gone well

The 41-year old Meb revelaed today that he sprained his ankle on a long run in early March, two weeks before his race at the NYC Half. He said that running on it caused his Achilles to flare up, and as a result, he had to run NYC more as a tempo (he ran 64:55) as he simply wasn’t capable of giving an all-out effort coming off the injury.

Of his 24 career marathons, Meb said that this buildup was one of his worst, but he’s not freaking out. He pointed out that the worst buildup he had for a marathon was before the Olympic Trials in 2012 when injuries limited his buildup to just 40 days. Of course, Meb won that race, and set a PR of 2:09:08 to boot.

Meb’s last marathon did not go well — he was 33rd in Rio after struggling to keep his fluids down — but he said doesn’t feel the need for redemption. Of course, Meb wants to run well on Monday, but after an Olympic silver medal and major marathon wins in Boston and New York, he’s long past the point where he’s worried about a poor marathon.   

“It’s my last [Boston] Marathon, what do I have to worry about? I don’t have to prove anything.”

Meb’s brother and agent, Merhawi, was more upbeat as he said after the NYC Half that things have gone well and Meb is healthy.

Luke Puskedra is hoping to exorcise the demons of his last marathon in Chicago

Puskedra said today that he built up his last few marathons in his head quite a bit, but after a rough showing in Chicago last year (19th in 2:20:18), he’s content to fly under the radar in Boston. Initially, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to run the race, but he decided that he felt better focusing for a marathon than anything else this spring and Boston was a good fit.

Puskedra has spent a good portion of this buildup at altitude in Flagstaff, and felt it was good to not only get in some work at altitude but to switch things up from the same routes he always runs in Eugene.

More than anything, Boston is a chance for Puskedra to restore his confidence as a marathoner. His 10k split from 30k to 40k in Chicago was 36:22, and Puskedra said it felt like he was running 15-minute mile pace. Since then, he’s worried about blowing up in similar fashion late in a marathon, but is hoping that a good run in Boston can eliminate those thoughts from his mind.

“When I started training again, I was like man, I hope I don’t feel like that every time I’m training,” Puskedra said. “Those first few long runs were a bit scary. But the last few were like ‘Yeah, I’m ready for this.’”

Emmanuel Mutai is “looking forward to winning” on Monday

Emmanuel Mutai, who ran 2:03:13 in Berlin in 2014, has the best PR in the field but has only broken 2:10 in one of his four marathons since he ran that 2:03:13. However, Mutai told us today that he’s solved the stomach problems that were plaguing him and he’s “looking forward to winning” on Monday. For more on Mutai, we have a full article on him here:

RRW If Emmanuel Mutai Finishes The Boston Marathon On Monday, He’ll Be The First Majors To Have Run All 8 Majors

Chebet en route to a third-place finish in 2015

Chebet en route to a third-place finish in 2015

Wilson Chebet, who was 2nd in Boston in 2014 and 3rd in 2016, has taken some risks in training and says he’s ready to do better than what he’s done in the past

The 31-year-old Chebet enjoyed great success when he first became a marathoner. Of the six marathons that Chebet finished up through the end of 2013, he ran 2:06:12 or faster in five of them. However, since then, he’s finished seven marathons and none of them have been faster than 2:08:19 (admittedly two of those finishes have been top-3 finishes in Boston, which is often tactical).

But Chebet’s agent, Davor Savija, said today that they purposely changed some things up in training and took ‘some risks’ as the old training ‘wasn’t working.’ Savija said Chebet has increased his mileage from 150 to 160 km per week (93-99 miles) to 180 km (113 miles) per week, run on paved roads for the first time and also increased the pace of some his hard workouts from 2:55 per km to 2:48 per km. Savija said that Chebet is “happy” and “motivated” so all is good.

When we talked to Chebet, he concurred, saying, “Training has been good. I’m really focused for the race and I’m ready. I’m planning to maybe run better than what I’ve done in the past. I’ve been training well. I think I’ll run good.”

Geoffrey Kirui is a “big talent” who comes in with “small training”

Most of the elite Kenyans in the 2017 Boston field are on the back nine of their careers as all but Geoffrey Kirui are over 30. The one up-and-coming Kenyan is the 24-year-old Kirui. Kirui, who has run 26:55 for 10,000 on the track, ran 2:07:23 and 2:06:27 in his first two marathons last year and his coach, Renato Canova, described him as a “big talent.” When we asked Canova how Kirui would do, Canova didn’t make a prediction, saying his training wasn’t ideal. “Big talent, small training,” said Canova, who then added “Big talent and big training = big champion.”

When we asked Kirui how he’d do, he replied, “I’m fit but it depends on how the race shall be. I think this will be a tough race.” Kirui didn’t want to reveal to us his goal for the race but did say when asked that he was more confident than he was last year before his first two marathons.

Wesley Korir is happy Jemima Sumgong was busted — “It makes us happy as we are exposing them” — and is looking to finish in the top 5 in Boston

2012 Boston champ Wesley Korir hasn’t raced since last year’s Olympics. Given that he’s now a member of parliament in Kenya, it wouldn’t be a shock if Korir had other priorities besides Monday’s race. But when we asked Korir about his goal for Monday, he reminded us how consistent he’s been in Boston.

“I think my goal is to first finish the race. Second, to run a good race. Top 3 will be a good one for me. I’m hoping for top 3 — and top 5. I want to maintain my streak here. This is my 5th race here and I’ve always finished top 5,” said Korir, who in addition to his win in 2012 was 5th in 2013 and 2015 and 4th last year.

We then asked Korir for his reaction to the news that Olympic marathon champ Jemima Sumgong has tested positive for EPO.

“Saddening. It’s a very sad situation but we are happy that they have been caught. I think the danger is having cheats go undetected, but when they’ve been caught it makes us happy as we are exposing them. As a country, we are glad the out-of-competition testing is working. And we want to do more so people know if you cheat you will be caught.”

Want more from today’s press conference? Check out these articles.

LRC A Smiling Galen Rupp Says He’s Been Pain-Free Since the Prague Half Marathon — “It’s Just Been Such a Weight Lifted Off My Shoulders”
*LRC Desi Linden Is All-In, Alberto Salazar Says Jordan Hasay Is Totally Prepared & More From the Elite Women in Boston
*RRW If Emmanuel Mutai Finishes The Boston Marathon On Monday, He’ll Be The First Person To Have Run All 8 Majors Mutai, who has won nearly $1.5 million in prize money during his career, is basically guaranteed to be a winner as long as he finishes on Monday, but the 2:03:13 man also thinks he can actually win the race, “I’m looking forward to winning.”

 


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