The newly minted 3:50 miler will be going for the American record on Saturday.
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BOSTON — Galen Rupp has returned to this frigid New England city after several days at home in Portland, Ore., where he said he prefers the warmer weather at this time of year. Nonetheless, the warmth he felt from Boston fans last Saturday at the Terrier Invitational here — where he ran his world-leading and personal best 3:50.92 mile — has him brimming with confidence in anticipation of tomorrow’s 3,000m at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix.
“Well, obviously, I had a good race last week and that has given me a ton of confidence coming into this meet,” Rupp said at a press conference here today. “Last year, I had my first race here at Boston and I love running on this track. I’ve had some great races here in the past. The people here are great; the fans are unbelievable at the meet.”
Rupp, 26, the reigning Olympic silver medalist at 10,000m who holds five USA track titles, is sure to score a big personal best tomorrow. His fastest mark for 3,000m — indoors or out — came at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Doha where he clocked 7:42.40 and placed fifth. However, he surely went through 3,000m at a faster clip when he ran his American best 8:09.72 two-mile in Fayetteville last February. Assuming a level pace, he would have passed 3,000m in 7:36.5.
As a distance, the 3,000 meters is a essentially a hybrid of the 1,500 and 5,000-meter races. In fast 3Ks, men split the first half in 3:45, a time faster than Henrik Ingebrigtsen of Norway ran in winning last summer’s European Championships 1,500m. Rupp, who said he has enjoyed running the 3,000m since high school, said it’s quite different than running the mile.
“The mile, you’re going from the gun, it’s really hard from the start, and usually the guys who are running the mile are great 800-meter and 400-meter (runners) for that matter,” Rupp explained. “Three thousand meters, you’re getting into more of the distance guys who do that. It’s nice because you feel like you’re running really fast when you come down from 5,000, 10,000 meters, but it still has that endurance aspect for sure.”
The American indoor record at 3,000m is 7:32.43 set by Bernard Lagat in Birmingham in 2007. Rupp would not say that Lagat’s mark was his specific target, but said that he mostly hoped for a strong effort and another chance to work on his racing tactics.
“For this meet, you know, I want to get another really hard effort in and continue to work on closing hard,” he said. “That’s really what these races are all about.”
But when pressed, Rupp allowed that the record was possible if everything fell into place.
“It would be good to break it,” Rupp said with genuine modestly. “A lot of things have to go right for that stuff to happen. Those things aren’t promised; you just go ahead expecting to break the record. Obviously, Bernard is a very talented guy, and it’s a really fast time. A lot of things have to go right to break a record like that. If it happens, great. But, we’re really looking at this as another opportunity to compete against really top competition.”
Matthew Centrowitz, the 2011 IAAF World Championships bronze medalist, has been training with Rupp, will run the mile here tomorrow. He said that he’s been impressed with Rupp’s training which has been mutually beneficial.
“It’s been obviously intense,” said the usually easy-going Centrowitz. “It’s like nothing I’ve seen at Oregon. So, it’s been great for me, it’s been great for him and we push each other day-in and day-out.”
Ironically, Rupp is now a faster miler than Centrowitz, whose personal best is 3:53.92. But Rupp doesn’t think that has left Centrowitz the least bit intimidated.
“I don’t think he’s worried about me in the slightest,” Rupp said. “That’s his distance. He didn’t win a bronze medal last year (2011) for nothing. He’s one of the top guys in the world; his focus isn’t on me.”
That may not be completely true. When asked which athlete would have the fastest mile time at the end of this indoor season Centrowitz, who will run the NYRR Wanamaker Mile in New York on Feb. 16 said: “Talk to me in two weeks.”