Olympic setback leaves distance star with more to prove

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 5, 2012 - 8:05 PM

Thirty-five-year-old Abdi Abdirahman is all about setting goals -- but what happens when you've achieved them all? The Tucson, Ariz., native has competed in four consecutive Olympics, is a four-time USA 10-mile champion, including twice in the Twin Cities, and holds the course record (46 minutes, 35 seconds in 2009).

"I never thought I would be competing until 2012," the Somali-born American said.

The fire is going strong for Abdirahman, who was unable to complete the Olympic marathon in London this year because of a midrace knee injury. He said he has fully recovered, feels great and has worked out a new strategy for this Sunday's USA championship 10-mile race at the Twin Cities Marathon. Of course, there's no revealing ahead of time what that strategy is.

Never too cold?

Don't tell Sunday's runners racers how cold it will be this weekend. The consensus seems to be that this weather -- somewhere around the low 30s at the start -- is "refreshing."

"I did Boston earlier this year and it was 80 degrees at the start," said 47-year-old marathoner Tracy Lokken, the defending USA masters champion and a three-time Twin Cities Marathon masters winner. "I think I'm going to be safe there."

Lokken, therefore, can just focus on running his race and enjoying himself, something that's not difficult for a guy who says the older he gets, the more "giddy" he feels.

Back home

Chris Solinsky lives in Oregon, but the Midwest will always be home, the Wisconsin native said Friday. That's why the former 10,000-meter American record holder is excited to run his first USA road racing championship so close to where he grew up.

"Getting off the plane yesterday, taking a deep breath and having the crisp, cool fall air enter my lungs, it was very refreshing," Solinsky said. "I always feel home with I'm in the Midwest."

Solinsky tried to attend the TC 10-mile last season but missed out because of a hamstring injury. This year he's bringing an entourage of friends and family who otherwise only get to see him online or on TV.

A track racer, normally, with some cross-country experience mixed in, Solinsky said that because of his unique skill set, the challenging course will be an advantage for him.

"I've always been a pretty good cross-country runner, except I haven't done too well in the mud," he said. "So the road I think will be a good middle ground because it takes the track sharpness and the cross-country toughness and combines the two."

Starry field

Last year, the TC 10-mile was new territory for Olympian Julie Culley, whose strength is the 5,000 meters. She hadn't previously done many longer events.

This year, she's on a totally different track.

"I was scared to death of the distance," she said. "I really surprised myself with how much I enjoyed the distance and particularly enjoyed the course. It was a great springboard for me going into this year."

Now, the Annandale, N.J., resident comes to the Twin Cities training for her first marathon, in New York City on Nov. 4. Her second attempt at the TC 10-mile will help measure how her body has reacted to the new training.

"I think my confidence is much better than it was last year," she said. "I think Janet [Bawcom] broke me last year, and I was a little upset about it afterwards. I think I just feel a lot more confident with the distance and I feel more comfortable with the course, and having gone through the motions last year, it won't be new to me this year."


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