Team USA women's marathoners prepare for Athens
Director of Communications
USA Track & Field
The Team USA women's marathon trio of Colleen De Reuck (40, Boulder, Colo.), Deena Kastor (31, Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) and Jen Rhines (30, Ardmore, Pa.) are spending the days leading up to the Olympic Games at Team USA training camp on the Greek island of Crete. A three-time Olympian for South Africa, 2004 Olympic Trials champion De Reuck will compete in her fourth Olympic Games and her first as an American. Kastor is the American record holder and will compete in her second Games, having run the 10,000 meters at the 2000 Olympics Games in Sydney. Olympic Trials third-place finisher Jen Rhines likewise is at her second Olympics after competing in the 10,000 in Sydney.
All three have a family presence on Crete: Kastor is joined by her husband, Andrew, who also is her physiotherapist. Rhines' husband, distance runner Terrance Mahon, likewise has accompanied her and is serving as a training partner, and DeReuck's husband, Darren, and daughter, Tasmin, will arrive on Crete next week.
The three women sat down on Friday with members of the media at PilotBeach Resort. Below are excerpts of the conversation.
Q: Do you feel you've found your event in the marathon?
RHINES: I definitely do. My first two marathons didn't go very well, but I really felt the marathon will be my best event so I stuck with it. I know this is my event.
KASTOR: Next year I'll concentrate on the track again, but this year, in an Olympic year, I'm focusing on the marathon because it is my best chance at a medal. That's the event I'm strongest in right now. I have the 4th-fastest personal best (among the field) going into the race, so if I can knock off just one more girl, I should be sitting pretty.
Q: What are you doing to prepare for the Olympic race?
KASTOR: This is still a pretty hard week of training. Right now the thing I'm focusing on is getting a constant stream of food in me and be sleeping a lot. Ice baths, eating a lot and sleeping a lot. This will be a 100 mile week, which is one of the lowest I've had in a while. My highest week was 140 miles with a 24-mile long run.
Q: What kind of preparations did you do in the U.S.?
KASTOR: We work so hard on trying to do everything right. Hydration, recovery - training in the mountains it's much drier than here, so we trained in a lot of clothes to get used to the heat and humidity.
Q: How has the training been for you on Crete?
RHINES: I think it's great. Some people are concerned that there aren't many dirt trails here, but I do most of my running on the pavement anyway. Running a few hills around here, we should be doing that anyway.
Q: How will you handle the heat?
DE REUCK: I ran in Barcelona and don't think I paid enough attention to hydration early in the race, so I will be ready here.
RHINES: I've run well in the heat at shorter distances, but I'm looking at this as a new challenge. Taking in as many fluids as possible will be key, I think.
Q: What do you think of the course?
KASTOR: I'd like to think all of us are tough enough to handle this course. Jen and I got to go over it the other day. The hills aren't as drastic as we had anticipated, but given the heat and the intensity of the competition, it will be a challenge to get to the finish line.
DE REUCK: I like it. I think I'm more of a strength runner than speed runner.
Q: How did you decide to compete for the U.S., and how do you feel about competing for your adopted country?
DE REUCK: I feel really feel American now. The national anthem really stirs up emotions in me. We decided to live here, and originally we said just one year, then another, then another. We decided to live here permanently, and in 2000 South Africa said they'd never pick me for a team again.
Q: You've been running for many years. How have you seen marathoning develop in the U.S.?
DE REUCK: I see a lot of people, it's their goal to finish a marathon. People in their 40s and 50s start training to complete a marathon. Deena has inspired a lot of people to run a marathon as well.
Q: What would it mean for an American to medal? Is there pressure?
KASTOR: Any pressure is my own expectations and wanting to perform well. I know that in this race, it's a beast. There are so many challenges to overcome along the way. ... I couldn't have prepared myself any better for this competition.
Q: What is the most important part of the Olympic experience for you?
RHINES: For me the most important part is to try to compete to the best in my ability. In Sydney I go the flu that was going around the Village. I was trying to experience everything I could, but from then on, the focus has been that I want to go back and see how high I can place.
DE REUCK: I just would like to compete and do as well as I can. The Olympic Games is something really special. And on this team, I don't know all the track runners - just to meet everyone and hear their stories is great.
DK: Any race I go into, I know always going to be learning experience. To me, the most beneficial thing you get out of running are the experiences along the way. Ten, 20 years down the line, I'm not going to remember my 5 or 10 K splits, but every day we've spent here in training camp, and the international athletes we've competed against, I'll remember.
Q: How did being defeated by Colleen at the Olympic Trials affect you?
KASTOR: It's the race that brought me back to being hungry in the sport again, to make sure I do things right going into this marathon.