The California International Marathon has proved over the years to be a solid marathon for those looking to qualify for the trials and this year was no different. The sun shone brightly for two of the Lincoln Running Co. Nebraska team members.
Johnny Rutford had a solid build-up to his marathon, so solid that he realistically shared his chances with his father, Kris Rutford, twenty weeks out. “My chances are a third I qualify, a third I blow up, and a third I get hurt.” When he made it to the start line healthy his chances were fifty-fifty, and mentally he was 100 percent. He was healthy—the day was perfect—he had done the work (twenty weeks of averaging 114 miles per week!)—those supporting him at CIM knew he would qualify!
But, as soon as they arrived on Friday, in Sacramento, he received a text that their beloved dog, Oso, had been hit by a car. Obviously shaken by this, Johnny had more on his mind than qualifying. He and his wife, Camila, who was also running the marathon, were assured Oso was going to be fine, they were both able to refocus on the task at hand, which was running a really great marathon—faster than they ever had—in a couple days. Whether they were able to put Oso out of their minds completely is a bit up in the air, as I am pretty sure Oso was on both their minds during that race.
When they arrived in Sacramento, the weather was perfect, and it was only going to get better. In Nebraska terms it was a top ten day! Temps in the thirties and forties at the start, and very little wind. A qualifying time looked to be in the books!
Johnny’s dad, Kris, was able to ride his bike along to route to keep an eye on the race, and he gave us this report: “At 10K I first saw him and he was in a big pack and at that point 86th overall. At halfway he moved up to 67th, and finished 38th! His ‘pack’ ended up with about five of them, and they seemed to work together maintaining a 5:15 pace, passing runners the entire race.
“After Johnny finished I got back on my bike to cheer Camila on to the finish of her race. When I found her I told her Johnny had qualified. She was so proud she cried and had to do a little regrouping. “
Camila did regroup and went on to finish with a PR of 3:16! Johnny PR’d too with a gun time of 2:17:59.
The video of Hayley Sutter‘s finish is painful and inspiring at the same time. While Hayley’s gun time was 2:45:07 (the Olympic Trials qualifying time for women is 2:45:00), her gun time was 2:45:00. Runner’s World covered her finish and her race. Hayley is appealing to USA Track and Field but is also prepared to run another marathon in her quest to qualify for the 2020 Games. Stay tuned!