The 32nd-place finisher at the Olympic Marathon Trials bounces back in a big way.
BOSTON — Jason Hartmann had redemption on his mind long before he arrived in Boston last Thursday night.
In prepping for the Jan. 14 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, Hartmann said he had trained as hard as he ever had and felt like he was a legitimate dark horse candidate to make the U.S. team for this summer’s London Olympics. (He entered the race with the fifth-fastest time among 150-plus qualifiers.)
Although he had an off day at the trials — running a disappointing 2:16.44 that left him in 32nd place — he didn’t give in to despair or think about retiring, despite the fact that he also found himself without a sponsor after the race.
Instead, the 31-year-old resident of Boulder, Colo., circled April 16 on his calendar and focused all of his energy and training toward rebounding at today’s Boston Marathon. It meant he’d be running two marathons in a span of three months, but he felt he had something to prove — to himself— and wanted the chance to make amends as soon as possible.
Despite extraordinarily hot weather on Monday in Boston — temperatures reached the upper 80s during the race — Hartmann turned in a gritty effort born from that post-trials resolve, finishing fourth in 2:14:31. It was well off his 2:11:06 PR that he ran at the Chicago Marathon in 2010, but it might have been one of the best marathon performances of his career given the heat and how well he stuck to his pre-race strategy.
“Boston was definitely a redemption race for me,” says Hartmann, who is still without a sponsor. “It’s devastating to see your dreams kind of whisk away and not accomplish what you sacrificed everything for. But you know, you can’t let those things define you. You have to get back up and keep living your life.”
Hartmann smartly hung back with a large pack of runners while Americans Glenn Randall and Nick Arciniaga pushed the pace a bit from the front. Randall, a former NCAA cross country skiing and track champion for Dartmouth who also trains in Colorado, led by as much as 200 meters in the early going but was caught just after he crossed the 6-mile mark in 29:50.
From there, a large pack took over but the pace remained conservative through the halfway mark (1:06:10). Mathew Kisorio and last year’s Boston winner Geoffrey Mutai, both Kenyans, started to push the pace with countryman Levy Matebo after 16 miles, but Mutai succumbed to stomach cramps, leaving Kisorio and Matebo to duke it out for the next several miles.
Meanwhile, Hartmann did his best to remain steady when the pack splintered, and it paid off as the heat and dehydration wreaked havoc on several runners. Wesley Korir, a Kenyan who ran collegiately for Louisville, moved up late in the race and eventually overtook Matebo for the win in 2:12:40, while Bernard Kipyego closed strong to make it a Kenyan sweep. Hartmann, with the memory of the trials still in his mind, remained steady over the final miles to finish in 2:14:31.
Hartman said he studied the elevation course of the race and decided his best bet was to run conservatively and get to mile 21 — and the top of the Newton Hills — without blowing up.
“When you line up, your goal is to have the best performance possible, and that’s what I tried to do,” Hartmann says. “I felt like I had the strength to hold my position and move up through the field by just running smart and not overly aggressively early. I wanted to let the race unfold and then capitalize through other people’s mistakes.”
Although he has run well in hot races before — including Chicago in 2010 where he set his PR — Hartmann downplayed the heat and instead focused on his race plan.
“My answer (to the heat) is that I don’t let it affect me,” he says. “You have to do your best to take in fluids and keep cool by putting water on your head, but it’s really a fitness thing. If you’re fit, it’s not a limiting factor. It’s not something that will get in your way of performance. Some people will worry about the heat and lose sleep over it. They’ve already beaten themselves, and if you’re already beaten before you get to the line, there’s not much point in starting the race.
About The Author:
Brian Metzler is the editor-in-chief of Competitor magazine.