Will Nation, a 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier, will be joining Ready to Run’s store manager Rory Tunningley in tomorrow’s (December 20) Marathon Project in Chandler, Arizona.
The Marathon Project, which you may be familiar with from an earlier Ready to Run blog, is a pro-only race featuring Olympians and national champions. Two of the big names running are Sara Hall (second in the London Marathon in October), and Jared Ward (third in the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials).
The elite racers—comprised of 50 men and 50 women—will circle a fast, flat 4.3-mile loop six times. The men will be shooting to run under 2:16 and the women are looking to go under 2:24. The race will have TV coverage, but no spectators, and numerous safety protocols will be in place. The concept is similar to last fall’s London Marathon, which aslo featured a small pro field circling an enclosed loop within a park.
Nation, who ran a sizzling 2:15:12 at the Berlin Marathon last year, decided the Marathon Project would be a logical goal.
“2020 has been void of races for the most part and I figured this was a great opportunity to sneak in a race effort,” said Nation. “I was fortunate enough to compete in the Olympic Marathon Trials before everything got cancelled, but I ended up dropping out with about five miles to go. I didn’t want that to be the only race to remember 2020 by, and I’m hoping to end the year with a more positive result!”
Nation didn’t decide to enter the race until fairly late, so he had a relatively short build up. He did however get in several weeks in the 90-95-mile-a-week range. From there he cut back a bit to be ready for the hard effort of an all-out marathon.
“I had a pretty standard taper,” said Nation, who has been coached by Austin runner Jeff Cunningham for the past year. “I started dialing back the mileage a bit when I was two weeks out from race day, and I did less-intense, more ‘feel-good’ type workouts to stay sharp but not tax the legs too much.”
Nation is looking to pace off some of the top runners in the field, and get pulled along to a new PR.
“The course is pancake-flat and most of the field have better PRs than mine,” he said. “The plan for me is to go out a bit conservative in the first half and then try to pick it up in the back half. The hope is that I’ll be able to reel in some of the guys that go out too hot.
“The marathon is my favorite event, so it’ll be in my 2021 plans regardless of the outcome on Sunday. I’m hopeful to run one of the majors next fall if they happen.”
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