Ben True Set to Make first U.S. Track team, by Sabrina Yohannes

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Ben True dueling Nick Willis, photo by PhotoRun.net

Ben True surprised a few people with his brilliant win in New York on June 13th! Sabrina Yohannes wrote this piece on Ben and his goals for the USATF Outdoors, this coming weekend! 

Ben True To Run 10K at USAs, Slated to Also Run 5K


By Sabrina Yohannes



After Ben True became the first American man to win a Diamond League 5000m, he was pleased with his finish but remained undecided which distance to contest at the U.S. national championships.


"I was able to get myself in great position and it worked out well," he said, after defeating Olympic medalists Thomas Longosiwa of Kenya and Nick Willis of New Zealand in New York on June 13th with a strong kick that has served him well in several races. "I was thrilled."


The victory boded well for the June 25-28 USATF championships and Beijing world championships trials in Eugene. "The last few times at USAs have been tactical," said True, who placed fourth over both the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2013 U.S. championships, narrowly missing out on making either team to the world championships that year. "Things this year seem to be going well."


But whether to run the shorter distance over which he'd just won at the NY adidas Grand Prix meet -- and in which he is an American record-holder on the road; or the 10,000m, in which he has run a 2015 world championships qualifying time, True was unsure. "I'll have to play it by ear over the next week," he said.


His agent Matt Lane said on Monday, three days ahead of the start of the U.S. nationals, that True will definitely toe the start line on the opening day of the championships, and is aiming to run both events.


"Right now, that's the plan," said Lane. "So he's planning on running the 10K Thursday night." The 5000m takes place three days later. 


"Certainly, depending on the outcome of the 10K, a decision could be made, but right now, the plan is to do both of them, but if he were to make the team in the 10K, he could theoretically opt not to run in the 5K," said Lane. 


But True has stated a preference for the 5000m, which raises the question:  what would he lose by running the shorter distance, even after a successful run in the longer event? 


"The only consideration would be the weather out there," said Lane. "The 5K is going to be run at 1:27pm in the afternoon on Sunday, and right now, they're predicting it's going to be 99 degrees on Sunday. So it's going to be even hotter than the race in New York. Right now, he's slated to do both, but things could always change. He's planning on running the 10K on Thursday night and then he could come back for the 5K if he wants to - I would assume he would - but it's not a guarantee."


[Update: the start time of the men's 5000m has been changed to 10:45am Sunday morning.] 


As of Tuesday June 23, the Weather.com prediction for Eugene on Friday and Saturday was for temperatures climbing up to 98 or 99 degrees, with Sunday's forecast showing a high of 92 degrees on that site and 91 degrees in the afternoon on Accuweather.com. 


Sunday morning's forecast on Accuweather.com is for 84 degrees.


True has run 27:43.79 to meet the IAAF entry standard of 27:45.00 for the 10,000m in Beijing, but if he makes the 5000m team at the national championships, he would need to chase that event's entry standard of 13:23.00. He missed it when the NY DL race turned out to be a slow race in 79-degree weather, and he won in 13:29.48, well off his 13:02.74 best.


"It'll be somewhere in Europe," said Lane. "The only 5Ks after U.S. championships that I'm aware of are maybe Barcelona on the 8th [of July], Lausanne on the 9th and then Heusden on the 18th in Belgium, because Monaco is a 3K, at least as far as I know right now."


True elaborated on his preference for the 5000m in a May 30 interview, saying, "The 10K on the track is still something I'm working on and trying to figure out and maybe I'll give it a shot, but the 5K is definitely where my focus is. I enjoy the 5K more." (The full interview is here.)


But the schedule of the championships and the quality of the competition in each race impact decisions about which events to run, and Lane discussed the dilemma in an interview after True won the Healthy Kidney 10K in New York three weeks ago over a strong international field.


"The danger, from my perspective, in doing the 10K, is that if you don't make the team in the 10K, then you have 10K in your legs going into the 5K against a field of Americans who are ... really good right now," said Lane. "[There are] guys who will not run the 10K, who are legitimate threats, especially in championship races. ... Ben has as good a chance as anybody of winning that race, of making the team in the 5K, but you know, it's: Do you want to put 10K in your legs, or do you want to put all your eggs in the 5K basket?"


That decision to tackle the 10,000m (on 8:15pm June 25) has been made, and True, whose best is 27:41.17, and three other key entrants, Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp, Diego Estrada and Hassan Mead, have run the world championships standard for the 10,000m. In the 5000m, several more men have already run the standard.


"You have Galen Rupp coming back after the 10K, Bernard Lagat at the young age of 40 is still a major threat," said Lane, going on to also mention Ryan Hill and Hassan Mead in the 5000m.


After taking his third straight American title at the 15K championships in March, running an American record 13:22 at the BAA 5K in April, winning the Healthy Kidney 10K in May and the Diamond League 5000m in June, True is clearly on a roll.


"We're feeling very positive," said Lane. "It would be a big disappointment to not make the team in either the 5K or 10K this year."


FIVE-YEAR PLAN


The Beijing team and championships are important goals for the former Dartmouth College track and cross country runner and skier True, who grew up in North Yarmouth, Maine, and focused on running after abandoning an attempt to pursue skiing. "He realized running was the love that he wanted to pursue," said Lane, a 2000 Olympic trials 5000m fourth-placer and a Maine native himself, who started working with True four years ago. 


"In 2011, he sort of had a five-year plan of what he wanted to do and every single year, he's shown really good improvements," said Lane, who explained True's long-term plan. "It's not specific race goals or times. It's: 'I want to be one of the best runners in the world, and I think it's going to take me five years to get there.' "


True's 5000m personal bests show a progression from 13:24.11 at the New York DL in 2011, to 13:20.53 the following year, 13:11.59 in Heusden in 2013 and his PB in Palo Alto last year.


"I think we've exceeded expectations to some degree, but also, this year will be great - he hasn't made a world or Olympic team for the U.S. [on the track]," said Lane, who figures that is destined to change in 2015 for the 2013 world cross country championships sixth-placer True, who led the U.S. to a team silver medal there. 


"He's always competitive," said Lane after True's 28:13 victory over defending champion Stephen Sambu of Kenya at the Healthy Kidney 10K, where race conditions thwarted a possible attempt at improving True's 27:51 PB and the American 27:48 record on the road.  


"He just has that sort of real drive that you just don't see very often," said Lane, who expects good things for True going into the U.S. championships and trials. 


"If he runs well, I don't see any way that he doesn't make that team," said Lane.

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