Galen Rupp

Why the switch from the track to marathon running was not easy for Olympian Galen Rupp

Why the switch from the track to marathon running was not easy for Olympian Galen Rupp

Galen Rupp has quite the track record (literally).

He will go down as one of the greatest distance runners in Oregon Duck history. Rupp became the first person ever to win six NCAA distance races in the same calendar year when he captured the 2008 NCAA Cross Country crown, the 2009 NCAA Indoor 3,000 meter, 5,000 meter and distance medley titles and the 2009 NCAA Outdoor 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

But the Portland, Oregon alum, who ran track at Central Catholic High School before running for the University of Oregon, made quite the change from the track to marathon running. This change wasn’t easy.

I enjoy the training for the marathon. It was really hard for me, at first, to think about leaving the track. That was what my whole identity was… but I love it… — Galen Rupp

Any change as an athlete is difficult, but Rupp found a real passion for marathon running, even if it took some time. 

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Here is a glimpse of Rupp’s Track & Field resume:

Olympic Experience

  • Three-time Olympian (2008, 2012, 2016); two-time Olympic medalist (silver, bronze)
  • Rio 2016 Olympic Games, 5th (10,000m); bronze (marathon)
  • London 2012 Olympic Games, silver (10,000m); 7th (5,000m)
  • Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, 13th (10,000m)

World Championship Experience

  • Most recent: 2015 – 5th (5,000m, 10,000m)
  • Years of participation: Outdoor – 2009 (10,000m); 2011 (5,000m, 10,000m); 2013 (5,000m, 10,000m); 2015 (5,000m, 10,000m, 5,000m); Indoor – 2010 (3,000m); 2014 (3,000m)
  • Top finish: 4th (10,000m) – 2013

Rupp, along with the rest of the world’s Olympians, will have to wait to run with the rest of Team USA as the 2020 Olympics have been pushed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Summer Olympics will begin on Friday, July 23 - Sunday, August 8.

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Former Duck Galen Rupp calls representing Oregon 'a tremendous honor'

Former Duck Galen Rupp calls representing Oregon 'a tremendous honor'

Galen Rupp's an Oregon boy through and through, and he's proud.

"I'm a proud Oregon boy," said Rupp. "I grew up here in Portland, went to the University of Oregon and Central Catholic High School. I've lived here all my life so it's a tremendous honor to represent this state and especially a state that has such a rich tradition in distance running."

The Portland native attended Central Catholic High School, where he led his team to back-to-back cross-country titles in 2002 and 2003. He also racked up three individual championships: the 300 meter in 2003 and 2004, as well as the 1500m in 2004. Rupp broke state records for the 1500 meter with a time of 3:45.30 and the mile 4:01.8. He received “High School Athlete of the Year” honors in 2004 by Track and Field news. 

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Following his high school career, Rupp remained in state, attending the University of Oregon. He earned 14 All-American honors and five individual championships. He won the 10,000m in the 2009 USA Outdoor Track and Field championships with a time of 27:52.53, and was eventually awarded The Bowerman award in 2009, which is collegiate track & field’s highest honor. 

While attending college in Eugene, he continued a long legacy of elite track and field production from the state. 

"Steve Prefontaine. Bill Bowerman. Nike. They were all started here in Oregon and proud Oregonians," said Rupp. "It's really just an honor for me to continue that legacy and hope to inspire future Oregonians that they can be Olympians themselves one day." 

Rupp became the first back-to-back marathon trials winner since two-time Olympic medalist Frank Shorter in 1972-1976 when he crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 9 minutes and 20 seconds at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. This is the third-fastest winning trials time in history. 

He was slated to run in the Olympic Games this summer but the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo got suspended until summer 2021.

Watch out for the kid from Portland running on the big stage next summer. 

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Father's Day: Two-time Olympian Galen Rupp's advice to his four children

Father's Day: Two-time Olympian Galen Rupp's advice to his four children

American distance runner Galen Rupp has quite the track record. 

Olympic Experience

  • Three-time Olympian (2008, 2012, 2016); two-time Olympic medalist (silver, bronze)
  • Rio 2016 Olympic Games, 5th (10,000m); bronze (marathon)
  • London 2012 Olympic Games, silver (10,000m); 7th (5,000m)
  • Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, 13th (10,000m)

World Championship Experience

  • Most recent: 2015 – 5th (5,000m, 10,000m)
  • Years of participation: Outdoor – 2009 (10,000m); 2011 (5,000m, 10,000m); 2013 (5,000m, 10,000m); 2015 (5,000m, 10,000m, 5,000m); Indoor – 2010 (3,000m); 2014 (3,000m)
  • Top finish: 4th (10,000m) – 2013

The Portland, Oregon native and former Oregon track & field standout won five NCAA titles during his final season in Eugene, Oregon. 

[Listen to the latest episode of the Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Ernie Kent, former Oregon Ducks men’s basketball coach].

Now, as Rupp continues racing on the track on the big stage, he and his wife Even have entered another big stage in their lives: raising four children.

As a father, I hope I can inspire them to really go after their dreams and show them that if you really want to go after something, it takes a lot of hard work and discipline and hopefully when they’re older they can realize that more and more but I’ve always been one to try and lead by example. — Olympian Galen Rupp

Enjoy more in the video above.

Happy Father’s Day from NBC Sports Northwest!

How to watch Galen Rupp at Olympic Marathon Trials

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USA Today Images

How to watch Galen Rupp at Olympic Marathon Trials

Portland native and University of Oregon alumni Galen Rupp will try to get one step closer to history when he runs at the Olympic Marathon Trials on Saturday, February 29th. 

If you want to watch his qualify for his fourth consecutive Olympics, the Marathon Trials will be broadcasted on NBC at 9:00 a.m. PST. 

Rupp competed in the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008, London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016. He won the silver medal in the men's 10,000 meters in 2012 and the bronze in 2016 in the men’s marathon.

[RELATED: Everything you need to know about Portland Olympic runner Galen Rupp]

The Oregonian attended Central Catholic High School where he won back to back cross country titles in 2002 and 2003 and three individual championships in track and field— the 3000 meter in 2003 and 2004, and the 1500 meter in 2004. Rupp also broke Oregon state records for the 1500 meter (3:45.3) and the mile (4:01.8). He competed nationally and internationally, finishing his high school career with a 10,000 meter race where he clocked in at 29:09.56 in Belgium, which was the fourth-fastest ever for an American high schooler. He was named the “High School Athlete of the Year" in 2004 by Track and Field News.

Rupp went on to attend the University of Oregon where he earned 14 All-American honors and five individual championships. In total, Rupp won two NCAA cross country team championships, an indoor championship and a relay championship. He won the 10,000 meter in the 2009 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a 27:52.53 time. 

He was awarded Bowerman Award in 2009, which is given to college track's Athlete of the Year.

“I’m a proud Oregon boy. It’s a tremendous honor to represent this state, especially in a state that has such a rich tradition in distance running.”

The most underrated performances of the Olympics belong to Ducks

The most underrated performances of the Olympics belong to Ducks

Yes, there was Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and Simone Biles -- they turned in spectacular performances in Rio. But please let's not forget what a trio of former Oregon Ducks pulled off in the Olympics. We're talking about historically significant stuff from Ashton Eaton, Matthew Centrowitz and Galen Rupp.

Eaton, competing in an event that used to be the centerpiece of the Olympics, won his second gold medal -- only the third man to take gold in the decathlon in back-to-back Olympics. Humble, polite and poised, he doesn't even like that "World's Greatest Athlete" label that usually goes with winning an Olympic decathlon gold medal. I hope he finds a challenging and fulfilling next chapter in his life. Certainly he's got the kind of versatility and poise to succeed in many different pursuits.

Centrowitz won the gold medal in the 1,500 meters, something that hadn't been done by a U.S. runner in more than a century. That's difficult to believe, in that this country has produced some terrific milers. Seriously, Centrowitz did something that Jim Ryun, Wes Santee, Steve Scott, Marty Liquori and so many others couldn't do. The list of great U.S. milers and 1,500-meter runners includes so many Ducks, too. I'll list just some of them, knowing full well I'll think of a few more later: Dyrol Burleson, Jim Grelle, Keith Forman, Roscoe Divine, Wade Bell, Dave Wilborn, Steve Prefontaine, Paul Geis, Rudy Chapa and even Matt Centrowitz Sr.

To do something that hasn't been done by an American since 1908 by is pretty amazing.

Rupp didn't come away with a gold medal. He settled for third in the marathon but considering it was just the second one he's ever run it was an amazing performance. Rupp has seemed to be searching for his best race and perhaps he's found it in the marathon, which is such a punishing discipline. He's successfully run every distance from the mile through 5,000 and 10,000 meters before trying 26 miles. He's got charisma and obvious toughness and someday he's going to bring a gold medal back to Portland.

There were other Ducks in Rio, of course. But this trio was the most special.