Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi, Abdi Abdirahman,Brian Sell, Jorge Torres and Jason Lehmkuhle spoke Thursday at a press conference in advance of the ING New York City Marathon. The race on Sunday also will serve as the 2009 USA Men's Marathon Championship. Below are excerpts from the press conference.
Abdi Abdirahman: This is my second home, New York. I've run this race many times. I've been feeling good, everything's been going well. Everybody says "you look happy, you look good, you look fit." I'm not going to predict anything, but there's something in the air this year. We're going to have a group of guys in the front. It won't be just me and Meb or me and Ryan. It's going to be a great day for U.S. distance running on Sunday. There's only one race and there only can be one winner. I am going in with one mentality, and that is to be the first guy across the finish line. We are all there to be the first across the finish line.
Meb Keflezighi: I'd like to ask everybody to put their head down for a second for Ryan Shay. This is my first time coming back to New York since 2007. I've been here many, many times. I'm excited. This has been a good year for me, and I'm looking forward to Sunday. It's a race of 26.2 miles, and it's going to be the best in the world. We're all going to run our hearts out. In Boston in 2006 we (the Americans) were third, fourth and fifth. If we can replicate that on Sunday, it will be a great day for us.
Ryan Hall: I'm excited to actually be running here. I've been here since 2006 watching this race. I'm glad to actually be running. I have a whole lot to run for here, with our Hall Steps Foundation. I'm so for all these guys who are up here (the Americans), if any of us gets on that podium or in the top spot, that's a victory for America. I don't feel competitive toward them, I feel we're encouraging of each other. It's about how we can finish as high as possible.
On his familiarity with the course: I feel like I've run this race. I've been on the course many times, in the lead vehicle. I've previewed the last 20 miles, tempo'd the last six miles, done loops and loops around the park .I've gotten dizzy doing that. I think it's actually very similar to the Central Park Olympic Trials course. I think coming into the park, for those of us who ran the Trials, it's going to be a breath of fresh air. It will be like, we made it. We know what Central Park is like.
Brian Sell: It's very exciting to be here on the 40th running, and what better race to do it at. It would be great if we're 1-6 up here. We all have our goals in mind and hopefully we're all racing and attacking that second half.
On familiarity with the course: I came out about a month ago and ran the first 20 miles, then came out the next day and ran the last 16. Sunday's course has a few more long grinders, and Central Park has more rolling hills. I think it will be interesting.
On retiring: I caught lightning in a bottle in 2007. If I can repeat that this year, I'd be really happy. I'm feeling it more than I was in 2007, in my hips. I'm getting older and looking forward to running in the mornings so I can have a big breakfast, and no other reason. If I have a top five finish, that would make me think twice (about retiring).
Jorge Torres: I want to that the NY RR for putting on such a great event and giving me an opportunity to debut here. To be on the world stage in the media capital of the world is a great opportunity, and I hope not to disappoint myself and the American public. We're here for one mission and one mission only: to show America that we've made it to the top.
On getting advice from his coach, Steve Jones, former NYC Marathon winner: I keep on asking Steve about the race but he keeps putting it off. He tells me just relax, don't worry about it, we'll talk about it closer to the race. We're cutting it pretty close. There marathon is a whole new event for me, but I've had some pretty solid workouts. I'm probably in one of the best forms I've ever been in my life, I just hope it translates over into the marathon.
On running the course: I haven't had a chance to actually run it myself, but I've seen it on TV many times and I've seen how the race breaks down every year.
Jason Lehmkuhle: I'm so excited to be here, back in New York. It's an incredibly competitive field. Certainly the deepest American field since the '07 Trials here and the most competitive marathon I've ever been in. I can't wait for Sunday. I don't think anybody would tell you they are racing only for an American championship. We're running to place as high as we can in the field.
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