We caught up with Khalid Khannouchi, one of the most prolific marathoners of the past decade. In the famous 2003 FLORA London race, Khannouchi took on Paul Tergat, Haile Gebrselassie and came out victorious! Khannouchi has been dealing with injuries for the past few years, and his 2008 US Olympic Trials fourth place was done on little training. We asked Khalid about his recent surgery and his vow to return to world class racing…
Khalid Khannouchi at the US Olympic Marathon Trials, NYC, November 2007. Photo by Photorun.net.
Khalid Khannouchi is part of tapestry of our sport lore. Khannouchi shook the marathon world up with his first victory at the then LSB Chicago Marathon (now Bank of America’s Chicago Marathon) in 1997. His gutty racing featured running insane, until then paces, and huge charges over the last 5 kilometers to take any all competitors down. When Khannouchi is fit, fear for his competitors….
The interview was done on the phone and after a quick check-in with Khalid’s wife, a very upbeat Khalid Khannouchi got on the phone….
RBR: Khalid, you recently had surgery on your foot, tell us about the surgery?
Khalid: The surgery went well. The doctor removed a growth from the big toe, which had made the big toe less flexible and gave the joint less range of motion. It caused me pain in my big toe. There would be some swelling and pain and it was not possible for me to continue running. John Connors, my doctor, decided to go for it. He knew I could feel well running again. (Editor’s note: the issue was with the left foot’s big toe).
RBR: And how do you feel now? Where are you at in rehab?
Khalid: I am jogging. I have to go slowly, little by little, with the rehab too. My foot feels a lot better, which is the great news.
RBR: When you ran in the Olympic Trials, were you still having foot problems?
Khalid: I had just had some trouble with the left foot, but, truly in the trials, there was just not enough time to train, as I had only trained for two months!
Khalid taking fourth in US Olympic Trials, November 2007. Photo by Photorun.net.
RBR: I saw you at the RNR San Jose last year, were you coaching? Are you getting into coaching?
Khalid: I am advising some local athletes, but I am not ready to coach et. I still want to run. The doctors say that I can make it. I have the hope that I can come back too!
Khalid at RNR San Jose, October 2007, by Photorun.net.
RBR: So, Khalid, when will we see you doing some racing?
Khalid: Sometime late in the summer. I am very excited to be back racing!
RBR: How did you start running?
Khalid: I started running when I was sixteen. I played soccer, running a bit. My dad persuaded me to start running. I won my first race, and my coach came to me and said, ” You have so much talent, you can train for running. Things started to happen!
RBR: Where were you born, and where do you live now?
Khalid: I was born in Mekenen, Morocco. I now live in upstate New York. (Khalid Khannouchi has been an American citizen for several years, representing the U.S. in 2001 at the World Champs, while injured.)
RBR: So, of all your races, what race is your favorite?
Khalid (very relaxed): The best race? Oh, my first win in the Chicago Marathon in 1997!
And with that, our interview ended, with Khalid offering to speak anytime. He is like that. A wonderful interview. Even when he was injured, Khalid has made a point of speaking to the media and about the country that he has adopted, the U.S.
We wish Khalid Khannouchi a full recovery from his injuries and a return to his former racing self. Anyone injured knows the frustration, and whether one is the American record holder, former world record holder, as Khalid is, or a five hour marathoner, that absence of running, is bound to affect you.
Special thanks to Khalid Khannouchi for his time and Kristen Sullivan of New Balance for setting up the interview.
Khalid Khannouchi is sponsored by New Balance Athletic Shoes, http://www.newbalance.com
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