May 6, 2018
Ever since earning Olympic bronze in Rio in August 2016, it had been clear that Galen Rupp was capable of running a very fast marathon. Today in Prague, Rupp proved it.
Just 20 days after dropping out of a bone-chillingly cold, wet, and windy Boston Marathon, Rupp clocked 2:06:07 to win the 2018 Volkswagen Prague Marathon after breaking rival Sisay Lemma of Ethiopia after 24 miles.
Conditions were good for running in Prague (56 degrees at the start, 63 at the finish, sunny with minimal wind) and Rupp took advantage, as the lead pack of seven men (including one rabbit) hit halfway in 1:03:00. The pace began to lag shortly after halfway, but Rupp got it going again, dropping a 14:39 5k split from 25k to 30k as he and Lemma — who ran 2:04:08 in Dubai in January — dropped the rest of the field. Rupp and Lemma traded the lead until the final two miles, when Rupp struck hard, opening up a gap and cruising to a 55-second victory.
The time makes Rupp the third-fastest American ever, after Ryan Hall (2:04:58) and Khalid Khannouchi (2:05:38). Among marathons run on record-eligible courses, it was the second-fastest ever by an American, following Khannouchi’s 2:05:38 at the 2002 London Marathon and his 2:05:56 at the 2002 Chicago Marathon (Hall’s 2:04:58 came at the wind-aided 2011 Boston Marathon, which as a point-to-point course, is not eligible for IAAF records). It is the fastest ever marathon by an American-born athlete on a record-eligible course, as Khannouchi was born in Morocco and represented his native land until age 29.
The top group of rabbits were tasked with running 2:06:00, but Lemma, who finished 4th behind Rupp in last year’s Chicago Marathon, wanted to go faster, and he and one of the pacers opened up an eight-second gap at the front of the race by 10k (29:28). Rupp, not wanting the race to get away from him so early, led the charge to reel in Lemma and by 15k (44:28), he was on 2:05:05 pace and one of six men within three seconds of the lead. The pack slowed over the next 5k (run in 15:16) to hit halfway in 1:03:00, but slowed even further over the next 5k (15:24) as the rabbit struggled to keep up the pace.
At 25k (1:15:08), the pack was on 2:06:48 pace and Rupp, not wanting to waste the opportunity to run a fast time, moved up on the shoulder of the rabbit and encouraged him to pick up the pace, which he did for a few minutes before dropping out just before 28k.
That surge had succeeded in stringing out the pack, and by 30k, the front pack was down to just Rupp and Lemma, with a 14:39 5k split — the fastest of the race to that point — putting them back on 2:06:16 pace.
This was the showdown that we expected coming into the race: Rupp, the most credentialed marathoner in the field with a Chicago win and Olympic bronze, against Lemma, the fastest in the field thanks to his 2:04:08 pb. But rather than trade haymakers, the two men were content to lend each other a helping hand, trading off the lead for several miles to keep the pace going.
As the finish line approached, however, Rupp began probing Lemma’s defenses, and though the Ethiopian fought admirably, he began to crack at 24 miles. Rupp smelled blood and wasted no time dropping the hammer, opening up a 50-meter gap in a matter of seconds, which would only grow to the finish. Lemma was beaten and the only question that remained was whether Rupp could crack the 2:06 barrier.
Ultimately, 2:05 would elude him, but Rupp still managed to run a huge pb of 2:06:07 (previous PB 2:09:20 from Chicago last year) thanks to running an impressive final 2 miles.(Unofficially his final 2 miles were run in 9:26. His final 2km split was 9:24 pace).
Though Rupp looked great over the final miles, his stomach may not have been feeling great as within seconds of crossing the finish line, Rupp was hunched over and throwing up:
Boston wasn’t the only thing Galen Rupp got out of his system in Prague… pic.twitter.com/Bz16EIwp0C
— LetsRun.com (@letsrundotcom) May 6, 2018
Lemma crossed 55 seconds later in second, running 2:07:02 — the fourth-fastest time ever on the Prague course. Rupp’s 2:06:07 was the second-fastest behind Eliud Kiptanui’s 2:05:39 course record from 2010. Behind the top two, there was a big gap to third, which went to Iona alum Stephen Chemlany (2:09:42). Kenya’s Bornes Jepkirui Kitur won the women’s race in 2:24:19.
Quick Take #1: 2:06:07 – Galen Rupp is no longer a 2:09 guy
Any serious running fan knew that Rupp was capable of much faster than the 2:09:20 he ran in Chicago last year, but he still had to go out there and do it. And that’s what he did today in Prague, taking advantage of good pacing and favorable weather to clock 2:06:07 despite dropping out of Boston 20 days earlier. Ironically, Rupp probably ran faster today than he would have had he tried to chase a fast time by running London instead of Boston. Because of the suicidal early pacing in London (13:48 at 5k, 1:01:00 at the half), only two guys wound up running faster than 2:06:21, and one of them was the GOAT, Eliud Kipchoge. But the pacing was more sensible in Prague, and as a result, Rupp now has a faster PR than former training partner Mo Farah.
Here’s where Rupp stacks up on the all-time U.S. list:
1. 2:04:58* Ryan Hall, 2011 Boston
2. 2:05:38 Khalid Khannouchi, 2002 London
3. 2:05:56 Khalid Khannouchi, 2002 Chicago
4. 2:06:07 Galen Rupp, 2018 Prague
5. 2:06:17 Ryan Hall, 2008 London
*wind-aided and downhill
Rupp is also now the fourth-fastest non-African-born marathoner of all time:
1. 2:04:58* Ryan Hall, USA, 2018 Boston
2. 2:05:48 Sondre Nordstad Moen, Norway, 2017 Fukuoka
3. 2:06:05 Ronaldo da Costa, Brazil, 1998 Berlin
4. 2:06:07 Galen Rupp, USA, 2018 Prague
5. 2:06:11 Yuta Shitara, 2018 Tokyo
*wind-aided and downhill
QT: Galen Rupp remains a marathon stud
Galen Rupp has started six career marathons. Here’s what he has done:
2016 Olympic Trials: 1st, 2:11:13
2016 Olympics: 3rd, 2:10:05
2017 Boston: 2nd, 2:09:58
2017 Chicago: 1st, 2:09:20
2018 Boston: DNF
2018 Prague: 1st, 2:06:07
So if you remove 2018 Boston — where 23 elite athletes dropped out because of the brutal conditions — he has three wins, a runner-up in a major to the guy we ranked as World #1 that year (Geoffrey Kirui) and an Olympic bronze medal. Not a bad marathon in the bunch, and he’s also PR’d in every marathon he’s finished. Galen Rupp was an outstanding 10,000-meter runner, but when his career is over, he may wind up as an even better marathoner.
QT: Galen Rupp gold in Tokyo 2020?
Prior to the race, Galen Rupp told a Brazilian YouTuber (video below) that his big goal is to win the marathon gold at the Tokyo Olympics. “I’d love to win a gold medal at the Olympics. That has always been a goal of mine ever since I started running. It’s definitely the thing that is kind of driving everything I’m doing right now to try and win a gold medal in Tokyo. I know it’s going to be a really big challenge but I think I’m up for it.”
We’ve always pencilled in Galen as one of the favorites for Tokyo. The knock on his resume was he had never run a fast time. 2:06:07 is not 2:04, but it’s a fast time, and Rupp’s finish today showed he can close tremendously well in a faster race. Throw in the fact Galen is one of the best hot weather marathoners in the world and what more does he need to do before then to sway the doubters? He already has a bronze in the Olympic marathon and continues to build his marathon resume.
This run was right what we expected from Galen. We don’t want to get carried away with today’s performance as people have run faster on Prague (2:05:39 is the course record), but this isn’t a pancake fast course and Galen handled it superbly with a great time.
Discuss this race in our forums: RUPP IS OFFICIALLY A 2:06 GUY – 2:06:07 Amazing!
*Official Prague Marathon- Galen Rupp Prediction Thread
*Galen Rupp interview with brazilian youtuber
*Rupp havaters go home DEVASTED
56 degrees, sunny, 3 mph wind at start. Very good conditions.
63 degrees unofficially at finish
10K: 14:44 (29:36)
15K: 14:52 (44:28)
20K: 15:16 (59:44)
25K: 15:24 (1:15:08)
30K: 14:39 (1:29:47)
35K: 15:02 (1:44:49)
40k: 14:52 (1:59:41)
Finish: 2:06:07 Rupp ran 14:39 pace the final 2.2km