The Race As It Happened | Post-Race Recap | Race Photos | Complete Results
The Trials: Complete Qualifiers/Entrants List | The Course |
Olympics Trials Complete History
Profiles/Interviews: The Favorites | The Contenders | Khalid Khannouchi Interview | Up Close with Abdi | A chat with Meb
Extras: Video Coverage
2008 USA Marathon Trials - Khalid Khannouchi Interview
by Sharon Ekstrom
Khannouchi is here - he's healthy, focused and ready to race!
Along with being a four-time Chicago Marathon winner, American Record Holder and ex-World Record Holder; Khalid Khannouchi is arguably the world's best marathon runner of all time, as evidenced by his three finishes ranked on the top eight all time fastest marathon performances, with a personal best of 2:05:38 at the 2002 London Marathon. Khannouchi became an American in 2000, but just too late to qualify for the 2000 Olympic Trials. In 2004, Khannouchi was best by injuries and unable to participate in that year's Olympic Team Trials. Leading up to the 2008 Trials, injuries threatened his ability to compete, and even the official media book ends Khannouchi's biography with the words, "If he [Khannouchi] starts the Trials race on November 3..." (emphasis added).
Khannouchi comes to the Trials with the fastest qualifying time, but that was achieved more than 1-1/2 years before the trials and only in the last two months has Khannouchi found some relief from his injuries in the form of customized Orthotics created by New Balance. Now, Khannouchi believes - and we do to - that he is on the verge of a comeback at the Olympic Trials Marathon. We caught up with Khannouchi and spoke with him about his training, his injuries, his feelings about the new World Record, the Olympic Selection process and more...
Q: What are your thoughts on the Olympic Trials?
KK: It is my dream to represent the US at the Olympics. It's a dream that my family has as well - each time I talk with my father it is all he can talk about... I am ready to compete and I won't make excuses. I'm very excited, prepared and I hope I can rise to the occasion and do the best that I can.
Q: How do you feel about the Trials as the Selection Mechanism for the Olympics?
KK: The system is fine, but it does not necessarily choose the best team. I was unlucky in 2004 because I was injured and could not compete. You have one bad day and it's not fair to have a one time chance for a race that happens every four years... This year again, the trials came in the wrong time [because of my injuries]. Two Months ago I didn't think I could make it, in the past I had more time to prepare. Four months is good to train for a marathon - gives more time to rest. Two months is not enough, you have different challenges and you have to deal with it.
Q: Comments on the Trials Course and the longest run you've done in Central Park.
KK: 22 miles in Central Park, it was very tough. You cannot go and prepare for a course - the main thing you do is prepare for the distance.
Q: How do you feel about your other competitors in the race? People like Meb?
KK: Many will come overtrained. I can be right there with the top 5 guys. Meb is a role model to me. He is humble and he is a true inspiration with what he did in Athens and his behavior.
Q:We heard that it was difficult training through Ramadan (a period in which Muslims can only eat or drink before dawn or after sunset)
KK: I have never trained for a marathon during Ramadan. It was a tough four week period. Break fast is at 7pm and I need to stop eating by 5am, so it made tough track sessions more difficult and makes 1-2 hr runs difficult. It's tough to digest food after 7pm then go for a run. I did many runs after midnight in Central Park. I did morning runs at 5am in Rockefeller Park. There are some exceptions to the rules for Ramadan such as illness or travel, but training is not an exception. Running is something I do, but it is not a priority and the rules for Ramadan are clear... I am not a religious person but I respect my religion.
Q: What was your weekly mileage on average during Ramadan?
KK: 100-105 miles. Normally I prefer to do 120-130 miles per week.
Q: What do you think of Gebrselassie's recent world record?
KK: He was running on his own, so I was not as impressed. He should do a service to other runners and let them win sometimes. I think Berlin is faster than any other course, I'll have to measure it... It doesn't matter to run 2:04 or 2:03 in Berlin - I will call him a marathoner when he wins New York or London while racing with other guys, having the competition. When there is a race set up for a world record and you are the only one racing it's easy to run 2:03/2:04. If you're racing other people, you are turning around looking, watching - it is more difficult to get those kinds of times.
Q: You just came off the Rock 'N' Roll San Jose Half Marathon. Can you discuss that race?
KK: To be honest, I SUCKED. Lots of people called me and tried to make excuses for me - but I sucked. It took a week to get over the bad race. I want to make a comeback. I like to go to a race and enjoy doing what I do, the comeback will take time, but I still have weapons to win major marathons. After the injuries in the past I didn't want to work as hard as I was, but I am feeling good.