The Olympic Trials Marathon continues to stay fluid on the men's side, as Chris Derrick, after conversations with his coach, Jerry Schumacher, decided to not run the OT Marathon.
In his own words, Chris noted the following on January 22, 2016 on his twitter account:
"After dealing with a setback and missing some training in an already short build up, Jerry and I have decided to not pursue the OT marathon."
Chris Derrick is an obviously talented young distance runner. I was fortunate to watch him run while he matriculated at Stanford. On May 2, 2009, his 13:29.98 for 5,000 meters broke the five year old American Junior record held by one Galen Rupp (13:37.91-2004).
On April 30, 2012, we watched Chris Derrick finish third, after 25 laps, at the Payton Jordan Invite. His run over 10,000 meters, running 27:31.38, set a Stanford school record, but most importantly, the American collegiate record.
The fourth place that Chris Derrick took in the 2012 Olympic Trials 10,000 meters, run in the complete torrent that was the 10,000 meters, was quite impressive.
In January 2014, I was fortunate to watch an in form Chris Derrick win the Great Edinburgh XC Run over tall grass, and muddy conditions, Derrick thrived. His victory looked focus and effortless. A keen observer of distance running knows that a patina of effortlessness comes only after, as writer John Parker noted, " the Miles of Trials and Trials of Miles."
I met Chris Derrick on that Scotland trip in January 2014. A nice young man, who understands that amazing support he has with his sponsor, Nike, his club, Bowerman Track Club, and his coach, Jerry Schumacher.
His second place in the 10,000 meters at the US champs in 2014, to Galen Rupp, showed how close Chris Derrick was to the very competitive top of the heap of American distance running.
His 2015 started well, with the defence of the Edinburgh cross country run, and his run at the World Cross Country in March was then followed by some time off with injuries.
His seventh in the US champs in 2015 over 10,000 meters was the picture of a guy on the mend. His 7:43:77, a PB was run in the cold and rainy conditions of London Diamond League, on July 24, 2015. I was sitting high up in the stands in London and was quite pleased to see the the Naperville native run a PB over seven and one half laps.
On January 3, 2016, Chris Derrick ran a nice 1:03:41 for the half marathon in Jacksonville, Flordia. It qualified him for the US Olympic marathon trials (Men: 1:05, Women: 1:15).
So the questioning began. Track fans love to prognosticate. They love to rant, they love to predict who will do what. It is hard enough in a 5,000 meters or 10,000 meters. It is entirely another thing over the 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers, to prognosticate.
And it ended on January 22 with a tweet.
Chris Derrick noted, that after a talk with Coach Schumacher, he has decided to forego the marathon.
Bravo, Chris! Bravo, Coach Jerry, for the long term approach!
This sometimes keen observer is pleased to see Chris taking the time to give the marathon its due. He can run a fast marathon down the road. Now is the time to get that 5,000m PB (13:08.4) closer to thirteen minutes and that 10,000 meters (27:31.38) closer, or under, dare we say, twenty-seven minutes.
My rule on coaches such as Jerry Schumacher. One must listen, they know, they see and they feel things other humans do not. If Jerry says, hold off, his athletes get it. Schumacher has that midwestern thing, going. He is a man who communicates well and encourages his athletes well.
The U.S. Olympic Trials for the marathon is open on both the men and women's sides. Do not get me wrong. Meb and Shalane (and Desi) are as close as locks as they come. The men's marathon is widely open, and the women's marathon is as much about who shows up healthy as who keeps their cool in such a race.
The marathon on a course such as Los Angeles is offering is truly technical. Taking the right drinks, staying out of trouble, making one's move at the right time, and staying focused all come with experience and the focus that a few marathons give an athlete.
Chris Derrick is out of the marathon Trials, and that is alright with me. I am looking forward to seeing him on the track this spring.
He has a decade to run the marathon. And the faster he runs over the shorter stuff, the faster, more than likely he will be over the marathon.