By Jonathan Gault
November 4, 2018
NEW YORK — Two months ago, Jared Ward was seriously questioning his decision to run the 2018 New York City Marathon.
When the field was officially announced on August 23, Ward was finishing up a high-quality stretch of healthy training that had him feeling rejuvenated after an injury-plagued 2017. But after Ward developed a hamstring injury that caused him to drop out of the Usti Nad Labem Half Marathon on September 15, he called New York Road Runners elite athlete consultant David Monti and told him that he was thinking of withdrawing. Ward had run 2:18:39 the year before in New York, the slowest of his seven career marathons, and did not want to return only to record another poor performance.
“We were this close to pulling the plug,” said Ward’s coach Ed Eyestone, putting his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart.
But Monti tried to convince Ward to stick with it, telling him that if he believed that he could finish the race without injuring himself, he should give it a go. After running a couple workouts with no pain — a set of 800s, and a 22-mile long run — Ward finally emailed Monti on September 29 and confirmed his decision: he would run in New York. For the final six weeks before New York, Ward and Eyestone dialed back his training, reducing Ward’s mileage in order to keep him healthy
Usually Ward has a good idea of what pace he is capable of maintaining in a marathon, but today he elected to run by feel. And for most of the race, he was feeling good: he ran 2:12:24 to finish sixth overall and first among a deep American field, holding off a late charge from Scott Fauble, who was 49 seconds back at 18 miles but wound up just four seconds behind Ward in a PR of 2:12:28.
“I think I’m about as proud of him with this performance as I was in Rio,” Eyestone said. “Sometimes your buildups are not seamless to a marathon and this certainly was an example of that…I think it’s a great reminder to all of us that we’re not always 100% going into events, you just make the best of what you do.”
Going into the race, much of the pre-race talk when it came to the Americans centered around 41-year-old Abdi Abdirahman, the top American in New York the last two years, and 43-year-old Bernard Lagat, making his marathon debut. Instead it was Ward and Fauble who led the way, as Abdirahman struggled and eventually dropped out while Lagat wound up 18th in 2:17:20 after running splits of 66:06-71:14. A little further back was Shadrack Biwott (9th, 2:12:52), and Chris Derrick (10th, 2:13:08).
Unlike Ward, who downplayed expectations coming in, Fauble was not at all surprised by his strong result today.
“I know I’m good,” Fauble said. “I’m aware of that fact. I think being seventh overall validated how good that I know that I am more than being second American. We were seventh in a really good field, not just American but international.”
The Olympic Trials are just 15 months away, and Ward has the credentials (sixth at the Olympics) and the PR (2:11:30) to position himself as one of the favorites to make his second Olympic team, especially if he can remain healthy. Now after his run in New York, he has a recent performance that he can hang his hat on. It’s official: Jared Ward is back.
Post-Race with Jared Ward
Ward’s coach Ed Eyestone was proud
Scott Fauble makes a statement by finishing 7th overall