Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Khannouchi Set for Comeback
Three years of incredible frustration are about to come to an end for American marathon record holder Khalid Khannouchi.
Largely forgotten as he
convalesced from a debilitating injury to his left foot, he has reluctantly
"It has been very difficult the last three years watching people but I still believe that, if I try my best to be healthy, I can get back into it and hopefully get my world record back. But it is going to take time,” says the 33 year old naturalised American.
"It has been very frustrating because, first of all, I enjoy competing and right now I am not able to do that. At the same time you see everybody performing. I feel I can perform even better but I can't do it right now with the problems I have. So it is frustrating it is going to take some time but I still believe I can come back and make another impression."
"I saw the Olympic race. It was interesting to see everybody performing well. Baldini won the gold Meb (Keflezighi) who was representing our team got the silver medal and I was very happy for him. But, at the same time, the goal is to be there but you can't. And at the same time it was not in my hands."
The Moroccan born Khannouchi has set his sights on a spring marathon though he is keeping his cards close to his chest when it comes to revealing which one he favours. After his training was curtailed somewhat during the Moslem holiday of Ramadan he has increased his mileage to 85 miles of good quality each week. The surgery he underwent on the metatarsal bone appears to have reduced the pain. A slight and cautious increase in mileage will follow as he gains confidence.
Khannouchi has not run a
marathon since finishing fifth in the 2004
marathon running when he came on the scene in 1997,"Pinkowski explains.
"I think at that time the world record was 2:06:50 by Belayneh Dinsamo (
"He has won
Khannouchi himself is
clearly uncomfortable looking back. Even at the age of 33 he is content to
allow the attention to fall on Paul Tergat, Henrik Raamala and Haile
Gebrselassie who have turned in the year's top performances and who will face
each other in the
marathon I would say breaking two world records but in reality, if you look at
my career, I won most of the major short races in the U.S. and I was "Runner
of the Year" three years," he declares.” But still the best
race probably was the race I did in
Though his goal of achieving a third world marathon record may appear fanciful to the uninitiated, there are many credible backers out there who don't doubt his ability to come back.
"Sure he is capable," says two time New York Marathon winner, Alberto Salazar, "people have done it all the time. I really don't know the specifics of his injuries and what happened to him the last few years but do I think he can return to the top at the age of 33? Yes. Carlos Lopes set a world record at the age of 36 and, how old is Paul Tergat? I think he's 34."
"There's no doubt about it. He was completely dominant four years ago and he is definitely not too old. Whether he can come back will depend on his training, his injuries and how serious he is about getting back and whether he is willing to pay the price."
Khannouchi is still the only runner to dip under 2:06 three times, a fact that the folks at New Balance recognise. They have comfortably supported him both financially and emotionally these past three years and did not flinch even when he called Carey Pinkowski earlier this fall to pull out of the Chicago Marathon. He told the race director he was in good shape but not good enough to run with the front runners. In doing so he gave up what must surely have been a six figure appearance fee.
Apart from his twice a
day training sessions Khannouchi has been visiting his family back in
"I support the
Yankees," he laughs, "the Jets in football, Bayern Munich in soccer.
I always like to keep up with other sports. I haven't seen a game. Not yet,
only on TV. I will stay to watch them on TV as long as it doesn't
interfere with my training. I like soccer more than all the other sports. I
follow Real Madrid. Every time I go to
A seemingly effortless running form is what the American is itching to get back on the roads to do what he does best - compete. Those who have doubted his chances of making it back do so at their own peril.
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