Kastor media teleconference excerpts


Tom Surber
Media Information Manager
USA Track & Field

The United States Olympic Committee and USA Track & Field on Friday hosted a media teleconference with 2008 U.S. Olympic Team hopeful Deena Kastor (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) to preview the upcoming 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials-Marathon in Boston, Mass., April 20.

Kastor has had a storied career as an American distance runner. In 2006, she became the first American woman to run under two hours and 20 minutes which won her the Flora London Marathon. Her time of 2:19:36 smashed her own American Record of 2:21:16, which she set in London in 2003. Kastor's time made her the fourth fastest woman ever in the marathon. A year earlier, she barely missed her own American record in the Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:21:25. With the win, she became the first American to win a major marathon since Kristy Johnson 1994. In the 2004 Athens Olympic Games Kastor earned a bronze medal in the women's marathon, a feat accomplished with temperatures in the mid-80s and 50% humidity. Kastor's bronze medal was the first U.S. medal in the Olympic Marathon since Joan Benoit's 1984 gold medal victory at the inaugural women's Olympic Marathon in Los Angeles and the first Olympic distance medal for the U.S. since Lynn Jennings' 1992 bronze medal in the 10,000 meters in Barcelona. 2003 became Kastor's breakout year when she set the American record with a time of 2:21:16 at the Flora London Marathon, bettering the 2:21:21 set by Benoit-Samuelson in winning the 1985 Chicago Marathon. For her accomplishments, Kastor was awarded the 2003 Jesse Owens Award as USA Track & Field's most outstanding women. Kastor also holds several records at the half-marathon, eight km, 12 km, 20 km and 10 mile distances.

Q: Could you talk about your training leading up to Sunday's race?

A: I'm so excited. My plane landed in Boston last night and we were joking that it was phase 113 of 115 to go. It seems like it's been a long haul in training the last few months, but I feel ready and excited to be a part of this Olympic Trials. I feel very well prepared and I think I had a little ghost from the 2004 Olympic Trials kind of undermining the distance and the competition a little bit and I'm not going to make that same mistake twice. I'm very well prepared for this Sunday's race and know that between the competitors and the 26.2 miles that I'm going to have my work cut out for me.

Q: What are your thoughts about the course you'll be running on?

A: I love the course here in Boston, both the traditional, historic course, as well as the race they have set up for us in the Trials this weekend. I came out in the fall of last year to preview the course, and then also ran on parts of it this morning as part of my last workout and training run. I'm very excited to get it under way and with the beautiful weather conditions we have, and a seemingly fast course, except for the first couple of miles when we go around Boston Common to drop down on to the loop that we'll be competing on for four rounds, I think it's setting up to be a fast day out there so we'll get a nice, honest team out of this race.

Q: When you think back to 2004 and crossing the finish line at the Olympic Games, what comes to mind?

A: I guess what comes to mind when I think of Athens was great preparation, which is what every marathon starts with, and the support I had along the way. I've always accredited my success to the team of people that surrounds me. I've been very grateful in my support system and the knowledge I'm surrounded by. I could never be a coach, and could never be a manager, and could never be as supportive a spouse as what I have here in my team that's with me and helps me prepare. I guess I'm smart enough to know that I don't know everything and to get the right people on board to allow me to fulfill my dreams.

Q: You'll have a lot of local support on Sunday -- will that give you an edge?

A: I definitely feel that when you're out there running a marathon that support is everything, and I definitely feel a tremendous amount of support coming back here to Boston with family and friends and a big entourage of people that believe in me and helped me to get to the starting line healthy and it's my job on Sunday to perform well to show them and honor the work that they've put in to this. I feel very grateful for the family and friends that travel with me and that are here in Boston welcoming me and supporting me this weekend.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the intensity of your training?

A: I guess the marathon is mostly just getting out there and performing each day when you're tired from the day before. An example of that would be a 12-mile tempo run on a Friday morning, then a 10-mile run the following day on Saturday and coming back on Sunday with a 23-miler, with the last four miles being a hard effort. Those are pretty taxing weekends when we have to come back after a hard effort to perform and go a long distance. I definitely feel those weekends have prepared me well for this week and this weekend. I have high hopes that my main goal is to make this Olympic Team, but secondly I'd like to win the race in a very fast time.

Q: What type of times do you expect on Sunday?

A: I'm pretty sure the race is going to go sub-2 hours 30 minutes, so I'm hoping for about a 2:25 if all goes well.

Q: As the favorite, was it disappointing to finish second at the 2004 Trials?

A: It was disappointing in 2004 because I wanted to win that race, but I guess I didn't want it or respect it well enough back then, so that was my biggest mistake. I know not to make the same mistake twice, so here I'm not feeling pressure, but I feel the support of everyone around me and I feel confident in my preparations and my hunger to get out there and fulfill the rest of my goals for the rest of the summer.

Q: Have you given any thought at all that this might be your last Olympics?

A: No. I always take it one race at a time and it's usually when I'm competing that I have a narrow focus and I don't know what I'm doing next, but in this case I know that if I make this team my next competition, or my next focus will be Beijing and after Beijing I'll see what goals pop up. I'm really driven by my goals and that's the only thing that gets me out there. If I don't really believe in something, or want something bad enough, I can't get out there on a daily basis to put in the work necessary, so I'll see what creates itself after this summer to see how the rest of my career goes.

Q: Could you talk about the progress you've seen in American distance running, and perhaps your role in that?

A: It's definitely been an honor to be a part of the growth and resurgence of American distance running, both on the men's and women's side. Seeing people break down barriers and being inspired by one another and I think it's in a wonderful place right now to continue to grow. We have tremendously talented younger athletes coming up and graduating from college, a couple years out of college, that show a huge amount of potential both physically and mentally to take on the challenges to be one of the best in the world. It's wonderful to see, but we haven't seen the peak of it yet. I think we're definitely in the beginning stages of it and it will be exciting to see what comes out of American distance running in the next 4-8 years.

For more information on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials - Women's Marathon, visit: www.usatf.org.