Galen Rupp ran the 2017 Boston Marathon like a seasoned veteran of the historic course, finishing second in a time of 2 hours 9 minutes 58 seconds, trailing Geoffrey Kirui by 21 seconds. The race represented Rupp’s urban marathon debut. Also add a bout of plantar fasciitis that plagued the Oregon native in his weeks of preparation, and Rupp’s podium finish was particularly impressive.
This year has presented Rupp with far fewer challenges, and the 31-year old is primed to contend again. An American-born man hasn’t won Boston in 35 years, since Greg Meyer left the 1983 field in his wake. A clean bill of health has Rupp pondering what it would take to follow Meyer as champion, and more importantly, dethrone Kirui.
“Everything’s going great,” Rupp said on Friday. “I’m so excited and I’m real thankful after last year. I had kind of a rough buildup where I was battling plantar fasciitis and just couldn’t really train. You never want to start any race, let alone a big marathon like this, not feeling [like] you’re totally physically prepared. Things have gone really well in this buildup.”
Moving up to the marathon distance hasn’t been easy. But Rupp has adjusted in expert fashion, winning the Chicago Marathon last October with a personal-best time of 2:09:20. The more Rupp is able to feel out the machinations of running a 26.2-mile course, the more dangerous he becomes.
“I’ve been healthy, first and foremost, so I’ve done more volume, more miles than I think I’ve ever done before,” he said. “What I’ve really been excited about is that during all that I’ve still been able to keep the speed work going really well. That hasn’t suffered. It has a little bit in the past when I’ve done all that volume. I’m really excited to just get on the starting line and see what I can do this year.”
Rupp isn’t the only American dreaming of breaking the tape on Boylston Street, and similar to the Oregonian, Arizona native Abdi Abdirahman has enjoyed less turbulence during his 2018 buildup versus what transpired last year.
Abdirahman finished first among the 40-and-over field in 2017 with a time of 2:12:45 — good for sixth place overall. Abdirahman bested 2014 champion Meb Keflezighi, second in the 40-plus tier, by more than four minutes.
“The last buildup, most of them I did solo, and then last year I went to Ethiopia, but I was sick most of the time I was there,” recalled Abdirahman. “I only got to train [for] three or four weeks. This year I [was able] to get the perfect buildup where I wasn’t sick, I didn’t have any food poisoning. It’s been amazing. I’m happy with where I am.”
Monday’s forecast was summarized in succinct fashion by the defending champion. Projected Kirui, “[It’ll] be cold, rainy.”
When asked how the conditions will affect the race, most runners resorted to cliches, citing a level playing field. But one runner who was born and bred in a region known for its bleak conditions is relishing the chance to race in the cold.
“Being an Oregon boy, I’m not too fazed by the weather,” Rupp said. “Cold and rain is what it is most of the time where I’m from. It’s definitely something you have to be aware of, especially the wind. If the headwind is coming from your side, that’s obviously something you’re cognizant of.
“This is the first [time] I’ve run a race that hasn’t been really hot and really humid, a marathon. I’m looking forward to running in some cooler conditions and seeing how I handle that.”Owen Pence can be reached at email@example.com.