Surprise, Surprise: Men’s Olympic Marathon Preview

Abdi Abdirahman. Photo:

Abdi Abdirahman

A naitve of Somalia who emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1990, Abdirahman is representing the U.S. in the Olympics for a fourth time — something only one other American male distance runner has ever accomplished. Abdirahman, who calls himself “The Black Cactus,” didn’t start running until he attended community college in Arizona. He eventually made his way to the University of Arizona, where he met coach Dave Murray and really started to discover his long-distance running talent.

Age at the Olympics: 35

Trains in: Tucson, Ariz.

PR: 2:08:56 (2006 Chicago Marathon)

Recent results: 2012 Healthy Kidney 10K, fifth, 28:56

Previous Olympics: 2000: 10th, 10,000m; 2004: 15th, 10,000m; 2008: 15th, 10,000m

Olympic outlook: Abdirahman has become something of a media darling of late—and not for his chances at qualifying for a medal. A Wall Street Journal article poked fun at Abdirahman’s habit of skipping runs, eating whatever he wants, his penchant for partying and his laidback, lover-of-life personality—traits that the article accurately points out have likely contributed to his longevity. He’s the sixth-fastest marathon in American history, but it will be a stretch for Abdirahman to reach the medal stand on Sunday.

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