August 30, 2013
Defending champion Matt Tegenkamp and four-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman are the headliners at Monday’s Statton Faxon New Haven Road Race, which is also the US 20k championships.
Tegenkamp enters New Haven most recently having been the first American at the July 4th Peachtree Road Race (which served as the US 10k Road Championshiops) and Abdi enters after a fifth place finish at the Falmouth Road Race.
While New Haven is important in its own right as the US 20k title is on the line, of more importance for many fans is how it fits into the fall marathon plans of Tegenkamp and Abdirahman.
Abdi Would Love to Run NY
Tegenkamp is slated to make his marathon debut at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Abdi is not entered in a fall marathon, but made it clear he would love to run New York City. Abdi mentioned New York multiple times on the teleconference: “I would love to do a fall marathon … New York has a special place in my heart. It would be an honor to go back to New York” and “If they come knocking on the door there is no way I say no to New York. Other marathons can take the back seat.”
Professional marathoning is a business with where runners race often determined by appearance fees and Abdi didn’t hide from that fact, “They (the New York Road Runners) are a big part of my career. I have to give them credit. I am happy for that they have done for my career, but (at the same time) it’s a business.”
Abdi still believes he can PR at the half marathon and marathon (2:08:56) but not on the track. He revealed his training is going great, saying, “I feel like I’m 21 again.” If Abdi doesn’t do a fall marathon, a fall-back could be focus on the .US 12k Championships in November that have a $20,000 first prize (and triple points in the USARC circuit standings meaning the winner likely takes home $45,000). More on Abdi here.
2:11 Pace Is What Tegenkamp’s Training Is Geared For
Last year when Tegenkamp won in New Haven, the 20k distance was uncharted territory. This year he enters New Haven as part of his buildup for the October 13 BofA Chicago Marathon.
LRC asked Tegenkamp on the teleconference if he had a time goal in mind for Chicago. Tegenkamp said, “The training is all based off of 5-minute pace which is going to be 2:11 (for the full marathon) … Let’s get in there through 18 (miles) and if 5-minute pace feels comfortable let’s see what I can do when I hit 20 or 22.”
Ryan Hall’s American debut record of 2:08:24 appears to be safe.
This summer was Tegenkamp’s first since 2007 where he wasn’t running on the track at the World Championships or Olympics. After the track season he took a “mental break” in July and ran 80-90 a week. Now in August, the mileage is up to 120 a week with the more marathon-specific long tempo runs still to come.
Tegenkamp also watched the US mid-d success in Moscow. He noted the US could claim to be the second best mid-d country in the World and much progress has been made in the long distances.
He said, “It was gratifying to know I was part of that whole thing … From a 5k/10k perspective there still is work to be done, but you can really see the depth of the US. No longer is it a guarantee to make the US team. You’ve got to show up and be 100% on top of your game.” (Tegenkamp was 4th at 5,000m at the 2007 World Championships and Abdirahman was 7th at the 10,000m).
Tegenkamp’s training for New Haven and Chicago is going well. “I’m more prepared for this 20k race than last year,” he said.
New Haven “lined up perfectly for my first real gut check going into Chicago”. After Chicago, Tegenkamp left open the possibility of trying to do the season ending .US Road Running Championships in November.
The Rivalry With Alberto’s Group
Tegenkamp runs for Nike and coach Jerry Schumacher out of the Nike campus in Portland. Also running out of Portland and the Nike campus is Alberto Salazar‘s group. Despite having the same shoe sponsor, there is a fierce, but rarely discussed rivalry between the two groups that starts with the two coaches.
Tegenkamp was not asked specifically about the rivalry on the teleconference but once can sense it. Tegenkamp was asked by journalist Elliott Denman if his group was separate from Alberto’s. His response, “We’re completely separate” and then silence. Denman then followed up and asked if he ever ran with Alberto’s athletes. Tegenkamp said, “If we’re just out for an easy recovery run and the schedules line up and we happen to bump into each other there’s no animosity there. We can run together. Our schedules are often times very different.”
Good to know the two Nike groups aren’t banned from running with one another. You can listen to the audio here. This part starts at the 2:17 mark.