Olympic silver medallist Meb Keflezighi has been taking advice from last year’s women’s champion Deena Kastor in preparation for his Flora London Marathon debut on Sunday (April 22).
“I talked to Deena about running here,” said the 31-year-old American who finished third in the Boston Marathon last year but has never raced in London.
“Deena told me to come out early to get used to the time change and the weather,” he said. Keflezighi, who trains with Kastor at Mammoth Lakes in California, is staying in the same house in Teddington, west London, where Kastor was based during her victory-visit last year.
“Deena also told me it might take a couple of tries to get my best time here,” he added. “As for the race, she told me to be patient and run it at an even pace.”
The advice is well worth taking. Kastor’s previous visit to London, before her runaway win last year, was in 2003 when she finished third and broke the American record.
Keflezighi was invited to run in London in 2005 following his Olympic medal-winning performance in Athens the previous summer. But the Eritrean-born athlete was unable to compete that year because of injury.
He returns this year as part of one of the greatest fields ever assembled for a single marathon with his mind set on improving his personal best from a relatively modest 2:09:53, set when finishing second to South Africa’s Hendrick Ramaala in New York in 2004.
“I am here to run fast,” said Keflezighi, who won his sixth US 15km road running title in January and has been averaging more than 100 miles a week in training. “To get a personal best would be good for me but I will be happy to run a fast time.
“My preparation has been going well and it’s a great field. It’s going to be an exciting race.”
Keflezighi chose to run in London this year specifically because he it is known as a flat course and, despite a couple of “nagging injuries” caused by blisters, believes he is in shape to break 2:09 for the first time.
“When you try to push yourself to the limit you are bound to get nagging injuries,” he said. “I am glad to get a chance to run on such a fast course. I hope to be very competitive. I am ready to go.”