2017 Boston Marathon & B.A.A. 5k/Mile

Boston Marathon Men's Preview: Can Galen Rupp Win 35 Years After His Coach?

Boston Marathon Men's Preview: Can Galen Rupp Win 35 Years After His Coach?

Galen Rupp will look to win his first major marathon on Monday at the Boston Marathon.

Apr 13, 2017 by Dennis Young
Alberto Salazar is the third-most recent American man to win the Boston Marathon. He did so in a legendary race in 1982 that broke him mentally and physically and eventually set him on the path that led to coaching Galen Rupp, who is supposed to be making his major marathon debut on Monday in Boston. If you live in the U.K., Ireland, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Australia, or New Zealand, you can watch it live on FloTrack on Monday, April 17. Prize money, full fields, and information on how to watch are at the bottom of this article. Below, we preview the men's race.

How healthy is Rupp?

This is the major question. He pulled out of the Houston Half Marathon in January, citing plantar fasciitis; after running 61:59 in Prague two weeks ago, Rupp and Salazar both said that his foot bothered him mid-race. Rupp is tough, but he isn't stupid, and it's hard to imagine Salazar letting him finish 26.2 miles if his foot is still injured.

​Update: ​Rupp told reporters in Boston that he's healthy after receiving a post-Prague cortisone injection in his foot. Watch the full interview below.

Since Rupp began competing on the international senior level, I can't remember him missing a major championship. His attendance record there is a testament to the degree to which he and Salazar have obsessively avoided major injury. He's competed in all of these races over the last decade:

2007: NCAA indoor 3K/5K, NCAA outdoor 10K, US outdoor 10K, world championships 10K, NCAA XC 10K
2008 (redshirted college track): US outdoor 10K, Olympic 10K, NCAA XC 10K
2009: NCAA indoor 5K/3K/DMR, NCAA outdoor 5K/10K, US outdoor 10K, world championships 10K
2010 (no world outdoor): US indoor 3K, world indoor 3K, US outdoor 10K
2011: US indoor 3K, US outdoor 5K/10K, world championships 5K/10K
2012: US indoor 1500/3K, Olympic Trials 5K/10K, Olympic 5K/10K
2013: US outdoor 5K/10K, world championships 5K/10K
2014 (no world outdoor): US indoor 3K, world indoor 3K, US outdoor 10K
2015: US outdoor 5K/10K, world championships 5K/10K
2016: Olympic Trials marathon, Olympic Trials 5K/10K, Olympic 10K/marathon

The man has made it to the start and finish line of every major outdoor championship he's aimed for. Missing the start of or dropping out from Boston would break a decade-long pattern. But the signs aren't great: his foot has been a problem for him for at least three months in 2017, and his only race in the last four months of 2016 was an asthma-hindered tenth-place finish in November. We'll know more soon.

How are his chances if he's totally healthy?

Damn good. If Rupp's foot problem hasn't hindered his training (he told Competitor last month that he has been averaging 140 miles a week, so that's possible), and his engine is fine, then he has an excellent shot at winning this race. Jared Ward, Meb Keflezighi, Lemi Berhanu Hayle, Eric Gillis, and Wesley Korir all lined up against Rupp at the Olympics last year, and none of them came close to beating him. Behind gold and silver medalists Eliud Kipchoge and Feyisa Lilesa, Rupp beat the rest of the Olympic field by a minute. That was four months after Hayle won Boston.

Rupp has only ever run a 2:10 marathon and 60:30 half, so if the wind is favorable and someone blitzes a 2:06 or something, he could get dropped. But Boston is much more frequently a slow race; the last five since the 2:03 anomaly in 2011 have been won in 2:12, 2:10, 2:08, 2:09, and 2:12.

Who else could win the race?

-Hayle is the defending champion
-Emmanuel Mutai is the fourth fastest marathoner of all time at 2:03:13
-Hayle, Sammy Kitwara, Yemane Tsegay, and Dino Sefir have all also broken 2:05
-Tsegay was third and won Fukuoka last year
-Sisay Lemma has run 2:05:16 and was fourth in Berlin last year, third in Dubai this year

How will the other Americans do?

Pretty well, probably! Ward emerged as one of the most dependable marathoners in the country in 2016, and Meb is a championship racer, but it's hard to imagine a 2:11 marathoner or a 42-year-old man winning the race. Keflezighi might not even be the top American man in his 40s. Abdi Abdirahman, 40, was third in New York, and Shadrack Biwott was sixth there. Luke Puskedra was fourth at the Olympic Trials last year, and says that he is focused on running again after missing most of 2016 with an injury and caring for his baby daughter with cancer. (Penelope Puskedra's cancer is now in remission.)

Any combination of those five men could be the top non-Rupp American and finish in the top ten on a good day and the top five on a great day. Ward was sixth at the Olympics and Meb won this race three years ago, so that might even sell those two a little short. There are only four Ethiopians and six Kenyans entered, so it's not like there's an enormous pack to contend with here.

Prize money

Place Money
2:02:57 WR $50,000
2:03:03 CR $25,000
1 $150,000
2 $75,000
3 $40,000
4 $25,000
5 $15,000
6 $12,000
7 $9,000
8 $7,400
9 $5,700
10 $4,200
11 $2,600
12 $2,100
13 $1,800
14 $1,700
15 $1,500

Men's field

Name Country Personal Best
Abdihakem "Abdi" Abdirahman USA 2:08:56 (Chicago, 2006)
Yared Asmerom Eritrea 2:07:27 (Chunchon, 2011) NR
Shadrack Biwott USA 2:12:01 (New York City, 2016)
Wilson Chebet Kenya 2:05:27 (Rotterdam, 2011)
Eric Gillis Canada 2:11:21 (Toronto, 2014)
Lemi Berhanu Hayle Ethiopia 2:04:33 (Dubai, 2016)
Mebrahtom "Meb" Keflezighi USA 2:08:37 (Boston, 2014)
Geoffrey Kirui Kenya 2:06:27 (Amsterdam, 2016)
Sammy Kitwara Kenya 2:04:28 (Chicago, 2014)
Wesley Korir Kenya 2:06:13 (Chicago, 2012)
Sisay Lemma Ethiopia 2:05:16 (Dubai, 2016)
Emmanuel Mutai Kenya 2:03:13 (Berlin, 2014)
Cutbert Nyasango Zimbabwe 2:09:52 (Prague, 2014)
Suguru Osako Japan Marathon Debut
Luke Puskedra USA 2:10:24 (Chicago, 2015)
Sean Quigley USA 2:13:30 (Fukuoka, 2014)
Galen Rupp USA 2:10:05 (Rio de Janeiro, 2016)
Daniel Salel Kenya Marathon Debut
Dino Sefir Ethiopia 2:04:50 (Dubai, 2012)
Yemane Tsegay Ethiopia 2:04:48 (Rotterdam, 2012)
Jared Ward USA 2:11:30 (Rio de Janeiro, 2016)

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