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December 13, 2017

When will Galen Rupp run a fast marathon?

The U.S. elite fields for the 2018 Boston Marathon have been released and they’re absolutely loaded, especially on the women’s side.

Shortly after last year’s race, we said that we definitely wanted to see the a match-up that included Shalane Flanagan, Jordan Hasay and Molly Huddle. We’re getting it and that’s great.

The men’s side is headlined by last year’s runner-up Galen Rupp, and we wanted to focus on him briefly.

Last year, Rupp ran 2:09:58 to finish second by just 21 seconds to Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui. Race organizers already announced that Kirui is coming back to defend his title so last year’s top two are set to return.

Is a Kirui vs. Rupp rematch must-watch? Not really.

Rupp appears to be improving with each marathon and when he won Chicago in a personal best of 2:09:20, his tactics were similar to that of the wait and kick approach that won him the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Rupp probably got a nice paycheck to return to Boston and winning another major on U.S. soil would be good exposure for his sponsors.

The thing with Rupp is that fans are super curious what he can run on a fast course. Given the day, Boston could be a fast course. It wasn’t too long ago that Geoffrey Mutai ran 2:03 there.

His other major option for the spring is the London Marathon just a week later. That’s consistently been a faster course than Boston in recent years, so it would almost be guarantee that Rupp sets a personal best. Then the question creeps in, could he get close to that 2:05 that Alberto Salazar believed to be possible for Rupp after he took bronze at the Rio Olympics?

Rupp would very likely not win in London. The fields are unquestionably deeper than Boston due to the top East African influx that heads there. Eliud Kipchoge, the best marathoner in the past two years (and probably of all-time), is already confirmed to run in London. Mo Farah, Rupp’s former training partner, will also be running.

You probably haven’t forgotten that Farah and Rupp went 1–2 in the 10,000 meters at the London Olympics. But while Farah never lost on the track at a global championship until this summer’s 5,000 meter final, Rupp never medaled on the world stage again until he moved up to the marathon. Farah beat up on Rupp from 2013 to 2015 and still owns a marathon personal best from his 2014 debut (2:08:21) over a minute faster than Rupp’s.

It would be great to see Rupp try and hang with those two and maybe someone with the likes of Wilson Kipsang or Geoffrey Kamworor.

Rupp already has the marathon major win on his resume. He’s tied for the lead in the World Marathon Major series, which would pay out $250,000. He can add another major win with Boston and then swim in money.

Does that then maybe bring New York into the picture and we try to see the first American to win all three marathon majors on U.S. soil? He’s going to get another good offer to defend his title in Chicago and it’s a Nike-sponsored race so we might just fall into a repeated cycle of Chicago-Boston-Chicago-Boston and not get that fast one. Meb Keflezighi even gave Chicago and London a try before getting into his own Boston-New York cycle.

We know Rupp likes to run fast. It was, after all, just three years ago that Rupp and the Oregon Project were going on record book assaults during indoor track season. He holds the 10,000 meter American record outdoors.

There’s a window of opportunity for marathoners to test their wheels. He’s already one of the most accomplished U.S. distance runners in history, though not without controversy.

We sure as hell wouldn’t want another controversy to be, “Well, Rupp never went balls to the wall to see how fast he can go for 26.2.”

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