Greg Adams had the choice of leaving Afghanistan a hunk, a chunk, a monk or a skunk. The former St. Paul resident arrived in the Twin Cities this week as a self-described hunk and ready to run the Twin Cities Marathon after a 31-year absence from the race.
Adams, 59, works for the U.S. Agency for International Development within the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan. Such confinement could lead to any of the four outcomes he described during Friday’s news conference at the Health & Fitness expo at the RiverCentre in St. Paul. He was determined to identify as a healthy hunk.
Adams began to swim, bike and run. Inspired by a cousin’s love for marathons, he set a goal to return to the Twin Cities Marathon more than three decades after finishing that race in 3 hours, 25 minutes, 33 seconds in 1985. He was 28 then and finished 1,159th.
Security protocol limited Adams’ training within the walls of the embassy. He had to be creative to stay motivated.
“I can’t really say how many laps because of security reasons, but it was 20 miles long,” he said. “I got dizzy running in circles, but I … would try to combine loops and go different directions, run with different people. … It was the most interesting training I’ve ever done.”
Adams returned to the Twin Cities this week 22 pounds lighter than when he arrived in Afghanistan and is looking forward to running a beautiful course that’s not in a desert climate.
“I’m glad to be back 31 years later,” he said.
Friends and training partners Dominic Ondoro and Elisha Barno return to the Twin Cities Marathon as the favorites for the second consecutive year. Ondoro won last year in 2:11.16, 23 seconds ahead of Barno and more than three minutes ahead of the third-place finisher.
The winner of the 26.2-mile race wins $10,000, and if it’s Ondoro or Barno, the victor has to buy dinner, they said. The total prize money is $75,600.
“We try to push each other,” said Barno, who won the 2016 Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth. “He’s my training partner, and we train together all the time. We are close. We are friends.”
Ondoro is eyeing the course record of 2:10.02. He laughed but didn’t answer when asked if the $25,000 bonus for setting a course record was extra motivation.
“My training went well, and I’m ready for it,” Ondoro said. “I think I can [beat it].”
Deep field for 10-mile
The USA Track and Field (USATF) men’s and women’s 10-mile national championship will again feature some of the nation’s top runners competing for $81,000 in prize money. The winners receive $12,000, and women’s favorite Aliphine Tuliamuk set an extra goal of claiming the $10,000 equalizer bonus.
Women will get a 5-minute, 43-second head start on men, and whoever wins the gender battle wins the bonus.
Tuliamuk will have to outrun men’s favorite Sam Chelanga, Team USA Minnesota member and U.S. Olympic trials participant Josh Dedering, and Rio Olympics triathlon gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen.
“[The women] would be so proud ’cause the second year in a row we would get the bonus,” Tuliamuk said.
Chelanga heckled Jorgensen and Tuliamuk during Friday’s news conference, saying, “I think they just better run fast. Really fast.”