If you’ve ever run a marathon (or even a half marathon), then you will appreciate how grueling this 26.2-mile event will be in the heat and humidity of Rio. The route is the same for both men and women, starting and finishing in the long, narrow Sambódromo open-air stadium (where Carnival celebrations are held every winter) and sending runners on multiple criterium-style loops along Guanabara Bay.
Sticking with Olympic tradition, the men’s marathon is the very last event in this year’s Olympics, starting at 9:30 a.m. local time (8:30 a.m. ET on NBC and NBCOlympics.com) on Sunday, Aug. 21. The men’s race at the Olympics has been pretty fast over the past two Olympics, with the late Sammy Wanjiru (Kenya) setting the Olympic record of 2:06:32 in 2008 and Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) winning in 2:08:01 in London four years ago.
This year Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi and Jared Ward will represent Team USA for the 26.2-mile event and here’s what you’ll need to know about each of them before watching it.
30, Portland, Ore., 2:11:13 PR
Nike Oregon Project, Coached by Alberto Salazar
Rupp is attempting to run the rare 10,000m/marathon double in Rio. (He placed 5th in the 10,000m final.) He’s an eight-time U.S. champion and 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the 10,000, but he only has one marathon under his belt—his U.S. Olympic Trials victory in Los Angeles back in February. His lack of experience could be his biggest weakness, but then again, given his considerable skills and racing résumé, he could just be coming into his own in the marathon and might have a better chance of medaling in the longer event.Photo: Victor Sailer/Photorun.net
41, San Diego, 2:08:37 PR
Skechers Performance/New York Athletic Club, Coached by Bob Larsen
Already one of the most decorated runners in U.S. history, Keflezighi is also one of the world’s top marathoners. He’s the only runner ever to win the Boston Marathon (2014), New York City Marathon (2009) and an Olympic marathon medal (silver, 2004). But one of his best performances came in the 2012 Olympics in London, when he charged from deep in the pack midway through the race to finish fourth in 2:11:06 (the second-fastest time ever for an American in the Olympics).Photo: Victor Sailer/Photorun.net
27, Layton, Utah, 2:12:56 PR
Saucony, Coached by Ed Eyestone
Although he carries a much lower profile than his Olympic teammates, Ward has established himself as a hard-working bulldog of a competitor. He burst on the scene in 2014–2015, when he racked up three wins and two runner-up showings at U.S. championship races at distances from 20K to the marathon. He earned his Olympic spot with a third-place finish at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Feb. 13, running a few seconds off his PR on a very hot day.Photo: Photorun.net