Ageless Jaouad Gharib Still On Top Of His Marathon Game

Moroccan Will Turn 39 Next Month

by David Monti
April 15, 2011
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved.

LONDON (15-Apr) -- Retirement from top-level marathoning doesn't appear to be in the cards for Morocco's Jaouad Gharib.  Despite turning 39 years-old next month, the two-time world marathon champion told reporters yesterday that he's again ready to contend for the podium, a feat he has already accomplished here a remarkable four times in six appearances since 2004.

"I never think about my age," he said in Arabic.  "When I am in training I do the training of a 24, 25 year-old."

The 'he's too old' worry has been following Gharib for years, but he has run seven of his eight fastest times since turning 32.  In his last five marathons --from the Olympic Games in 2008 to Fukuoka last December-- he has averaged 2:07:41, set the Moroccan record of 2:05:27, won the Olympic silver medal, made the podium in every outing, and was the champion at Fukuoka.  He's far from done, he said.

"The secret is motivating, motivating," Gharib explained.  He added: "In the last few years the training has gotten better.  I'm quite happy with my training...  I feel quite confident with it."

Surprisingly, Gharib is self-coached.  He makes his own training programs and does not have a regular training partner, although he said he sometimes runs with countryman Abderrahim Bouramdane, a 2:07:33 marathoner who also trains in Ifrane at high altitude.  He also said he is very careful about his diet.

"I have to watch my weight," he said seriously.  "I have to stay at 60 kg."  Professing a love of baked goods, he said he's unable to eat them while training.  "Forget about the cake," he said with a laugh.

According to the independent Association of Road Racing Statisticians, Gharib already holds two single-age marathon records.  His Moroccan record (2:05:27) came at age 36, and is the world's fastest time for a 36 year-old.  His 2:06:55 at London last year (good for third place) is also the fastest time every for a 37 year-old.

Gharib said that such statistics mean little to him: he is still in the hunt for victory.

"My aim is to win it," he said of Sunday's race.  "It is a dream for every one to win New York and London, all the grand marathons."



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