SACRAMENTO (26-Jun) -- Galen Rupp ran into the history books here tonight at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hornet Stadium, winning a record sixth national 10,000m title in 28:12.07. Coming into today's competition, he was tied with Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter with five titles each.
Rupp, 28, the 2012 Olympic 10,000m silver medalist, ran a methodical race. In the early laps he stayed tucked in the pack and let the kilometers tick away at a gentle pace, conserving his energy. He has his eyes on running a fast time at the Paris Diamond League 5000m July 5, and wants to have fresh legs for that race.
"You know, I was trying to run as easy as possible," Rupp told reporters after the race. "I'm still planning on running Paris, so I didn't want to make it any harder than it needed to be."
Rupp got his biggest challenge from two-time national cross country champion, Chris Derrick. With six laps to go, Derrick and Rupp pulled away from the field, and Rupp shadowed the former Stanford star, always staying half a step behind. Lap times fell to the 65-second range, but Derrick knew what was coming.
"The closer you get to the finish line the more demoralizing it gets," Derrick lamented.
Rupp didn't take the lead until there were 500 meters to go. He accelerated away from Derrick, capping the race in with a 60.4-second final lap. He would win by six seconds.
"My whole plan all along was just to sit back and then go hard with a lap to go," Rupp said.
Because Rupp has an Olympic medal, owns the USA 10,000m record (26:44.36), and three of the four fastest times ever by an American, tonight's sixth national title cements his position as America's best-ever 10,000m runner. He credited steady coaching throughout his entire career from Alberto Salazar for much of his success.
"I think consistency in training is obviously the biggest reason why I'm at where I'm at today," Rupp observed. "Alberto talks about a long-term plan. His gradual progression in training --not loading my mileage up too early in my career, and not giving me too intensive workouts early in my career-- constantly building on that year after year has been tremendous."
Rupp also said that he wasn't distracted by the fact his wife, Keara, is expecting twins any day now.
"I talked to her beforehand and she said, 'don't worry, everything's good.' She's doing fine, she's doing great. Everything's normal with her."
Derrick was timed in 28:18.18, and marathoner Ryan Vail finished third in 28:26.02, closing in a superb 58.1 seconds, two seconds faster than Rupp.
"I feel good," said Vail who ran a personal best 2:10:57 at the Virgin Money London Marathon last April. "I'm in better shape than I thought I was coming off the marathon. It's amazing how fast it comes back when you have that base training."
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In preliminary action here today on the men's side, sit and kick affairs played out in the pair of heats for the men's 1500m. In section one, Oregon Track Club Elite's Pat Casey surged down the stretch to win in 3:44.41. Behind him, former football player and current New Jersey-New York Track Club athlete Ford Palmer charged past the rest of the field to finish second in 3:44.73.
Palmer, who once weighed 185 pounds and gave up football due to concussions, attended Monmouth University before joining the New Jersey-New York Track Club this year under coach Frank Gagliano. Palmer said he used his underdog status as motivation to beat established players today like Garrett Heath and David Torrence.
"To be honest, nobody knows who I am. I had no pressure coming into this race," said Palmer, who bares a resemblance to professional football quarterback Carson Palmer. "Although I've been running really well all year, nobody saw me coming. That's fine. Now they're going to see me coming Saturday."
Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano relied on his sprint speed in heat two, timing 3:42.01 ahead of Lopez Lomong (3:42.32) and Will Leer (3:42.37).
Leer, who was very vocal at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships, spoke briefly about his decision to compete at this week's meet. Several other middle distance athletes who had been running well decided to skip the meet, including Matthew Centrowitz and Jordan McNamara.
"Everyone had different reasons not to show up. I'm a little surprised I'm here myself. That's all I'm going to say about that right now. I don't want to get kicked out of the final," he said.
Duane Solomon (1:47.19), Elijah Greer (1:47.29), and Michael Rutt (1:47.34) were the top three qualifiers in the men's 800m preliminary round.