Galen Rupp & Mo Farah Want to Beat Each Other In Chicago, But This Is No Grudge Match

By Jonathan Gault
October 5, 2018

CHICAGO — Earlier this week, I ran through the history of erstwhile training partners Galen Rupp and Mo Farah ahead of their showdown at Sunday’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon (LRC As They Prepare To Face Off At The Chicago Marathon, A Look At The History Of Former Training Partners Mo Farah & Galen Rupp ). The main takeaway? No one really knew how the two men felt about each other in the wake of Farah’s departure from the Nike Oregon Project a year ago, which saw him leave Portland and return to his hometown of London.

Today, I spoke to both Farah and Rupp and the agent who manages both of them, Ricky Simms, and they all told me essentially the same thing: there’s no bad blood between them, no “rivalry” to speak of. Farah and Rupp trained together a lot in the first few years after Farah joined the Oregon Project in 2011 but eventually drifted apart because their lives took them in different directions — not because of any enmity for the other. Rupp became a father in 2014, and since then he’s spent more and more time training at home with his family in Portland (Rupp’s wife Keara gave birth to twins — a boy and a girl — in 2014 and another son in 2016). Farah, meanwhile, has always gone to Africa for altitude training over the winter and likes to sprinkle in other training trips throughout the year — trips that Rupp was less willing to take after he started a family.

Rupp and Farah, reunited Rupp and Farah, reunited

“We still have a great relationship,” Rupp said. “It’s just he lives on another side of the world now than I do. So we certainly don’t talk as much as we used to…Part of [us not working out as much together toward the end] was just what the athlete wants. I’m more of a homebody, I prefer to stay at home a lot. I love being around my family. I feel that I’m a better athlete when I’m around my wife and kids than when I’m away. And so part of that was just that’s what I prefer. He likes going to altitude camps, feels that’s what’s best for him. So that’s just the way it worked out.”

Rupp said that even though Farah was the man on the track — the guy he and everyone else were trying to take down — that did not contribute to them drifting apart. After all, his greatest individual accomplishment — Olympic silver in the 10,000 in 2012 — came after two years of heavy workouts with Farah.

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As for who has the edge in Chicago, it’s tough to say. Rupp has run five exceptional marathons, his DNF in the horrific Boston conditions this spring the only blotch on his résumé. Farah impressed with a 2:06:21 PR in London in April, a stellar performance considering the warm conditions and that he went out in a suicidal 61:00 for the first half. They have never raced each other over 26.2 miles, so I asked both Rupp and Farah who was better in the longer workouts when they did train together. Neither wanted to give anything away.

“I know Galen and he knows me,” Farah said. “I’m not going to give away secrets but I think we know each other pretty well…I know what he was good at, what he was better than me and what I was better [than him at].”

Rupp, for his part, admitted that Farah was “without a doubt” better when it came to speed workouts, but that each of them had their good and bad days when doing the longer stuff.

(Don’t Forget: 5 pm on Friday: Live Chicago Marathon Podcast at 5pm Eastern)

Both men are aware of Farah’s 21-1 head-to-head record vs. Rupp, but Farah was quick to point out that it will be more than a two-man race in Chicago.

“Listen, every champion, every athlete wants to beat another one,” Farah said. “And Galen, he has a great fighting spirit and he wants to beat me as well as I want to beat him. On Sunday it’s definitely going to be a great race but we shouldn’t just focus about me and him. There’s other guys as well so we shouldn’t get carried away at the same time…Let the best man win on Sunday.”

Who will prevail in Chicago? Who will prevail in Chicago?

One more thing I learned today: Rupp rarely trains at altitude anymore, for the reason outlined above — he feels he’s a better athlete when he’s at home with his family (it helps that he has a system in his house that can remove oxygen from the air to mimic altitude conditions. Rupp admitted that he didn’t really know how much of a difference living at altitude and training at sea level made vs. living at altitude and training at altitude, but pointed out that he’s been based in Portland for most of his marathon buildups and they’ve all gone pretty well (aside from Boston this year).

“Certainly for me it’s just about spending hours in my house, making sure I’m getting a lot of hours and exposure in there,” Rupp said. “Maybe if I’m losing a little bit from not working out at altitude, I think I’m gaining a lot more with just being around my family and just being in a better environment there for me.”

(Editor’s note: co-founder Weldon Johnson as well as coaching guru John Kellogg would claim what Rupp is doing is ideal. They totally support the “live high (at altitude or in the altitude house), train low” mantra and that’s why was founded in Flagstaff, AZ as one can live at 7,000 feet but drive to Phoenix to workout at 1,000 feet).

This will be Farah’s third marathon, and he said that he’s still learning about his strengths and weaknesses as a marathoner. This will certainly be a different race than London this past spring — there’s no Kipchoge, and there won’t be a 61:00 first half. And that means another chance for Farah to learn about himself.

“I’ve got to work it out, what suits me in the marathon — a slow race, a fast race, is it a mixed race? What do I need to do?” Farah said. “You guys know me from my track career, it’s not like I won races com[ing] out of nowhere just go boom-boom. It’s taken me years to learn about the track, to understand what you’re good at, what you’re not good at.”

Farah spent this buildup in Flagstaff, and said that the big difference between his London prep and Chicago prep is that he’s run more miles this time around. In Ethiopia, where he trained before London, Farah was at times as high as 10,000 feet, while Flagstaff sits at a more manageable 6,900 feet, making it easier to add mileage.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, Rupp said that the pacemakers’ splits have not been finalized yet, but he expects an opening split between 62:00 and 63:00. Like Farah in London this spring, however, he said he is committed to doing whatever it takes to run with the leaders.

“I’ve always hated the mentality of I’m going to let people get away from me and hope they die and hope they come back,” Rupp said. “I just think that that’s such a bad way to look at it, you know? I’d rather be the one that’s attacking and be up there. It’ll be quick, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Farah was asked during the press conference about whether 62:00 or 62:30 sounded good to him for an opening split, and he said he was ready to run fast as well.

“I definitely want 62:00 for sure,” Farah said.

The big mark for Farah is Sondre Nordstad Moen‘s 2:05:48 European record, while Rupp has Khalid Khannouchi‘s 2:05:38 American record in his sights and, perhaps, Ryan Hall‘s 2:04:58 from 2011 Boston, the fastest marathon ever by an American.

Watch’s full one-on-one interviews with Rupp and Farah below

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Previous: LRC As They Prepare To Face Off At The Chicago Marathon, A Look At The History Of Former Training Partners Mo Farah & Galen Rupp

Full 2018 Chicago Marathon Coverage

(Don’t Forget: 5 pm on Friday: Live Chicago Marathon Podcast at 5pm Eastern)


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