Born October 25, 1966 in San Francisco, Ca 5-10/1.78m 140lbs./63kg San Mateo HS, San Mateo, Ca '84 Arizona '88 PRs (outdoor): 1,500 3:38.06 '90 Mile 3:55.58 '96 2,000 4:59.91 '95 3,000 7:41.60 '93 Steeple 8:42.56 '88 2M 8:26.83 '94 5,000 13:23.60 '93 PRs (indoor): 3,000 7:48.74 '92 PRs (road): 5K 13:34 '94 10K 27:59 '96 15K 44:41 '96 Major Meets: 1983 1)Kinney XC 1984 41)NCAA XC 1985 22)NCAA XC 1986 3)NCAA XC 1987 20)NCAA XC 1988 1)NCAA 5,000 9s)Olympic Trials 5,000 1989 6)USA 5,000 9)USA XC 1991 12)USA Indoor 3,000 8h)USA 1,500 1992 8)USA XC 1993 2)World XC Trials 50)World XC 1)USA 5,000 1994 2)USA Indoor 3,000 1)USA 5,000 8)USA XC 1995 3)USA 5,000 1996 2)Olympic Trials 5,000 9h)Olympic Games 5,000
The pressure's off for Matt Giusto, and that suits the former track star just fine. No more team trials, qualifying standards, or preliminary heats. He's become a roadie. He turned 30 last October and says, "It's going awesome."
The best thing, he says, "is the release of that pressure. I'm more in charge of where I'm at. I'm locked in on what I need to do as a runner to be the best that I can, especially at 10K. I'm old enough and wise enough to say, 'Let's make a decision. I'm not going to be running 12:44 anytime soon. Let's go with what feels good and would make my running more enjoyable.' I've always enjoyed running on the roads."
Giusto had run races such as the Carlsbad 5K before, back in his incarnation as a track runner. But Carlsbad always features visiting trackies. When he showed up at the Crescent City 10K in New Orleans last year, that indicated a serious change in course.
Giusto ran with the pack and kicked his way to a 27:59 win in the national title race. That earned him some dirty looks from roadies who didn't take well to him using his dangerous kick on them. Says Giusto, "As soon as you can go out and run a 3:54 mile, which would be a second faster than mine, then I'll help you out [with the pace]. But as far as I'm concerned, this is the way you have to run, from the front. I've got to get from point A to point B the best way I know how, and I'm going to rely on my leg speed. I think I'm a little bit faster than you guys at the end of the race and your job is to burn me off."
Giusto returned to the track during the summer for a swan song. In an irony of sorts, his best time at 5,000m did not make the U.S. top 50 list, yet he qualified for the '96 Olympic team by placing second at the Trials. It would be the first Olympic team for Giusto, who has been dogged by hard luck in his attempts to represent the United States in the big meets.
In 1988, as a senior at Arizona, he failed to make it out of his semifinal at the Trials. In 1991, he didn't make it out of the 1,500m heats at the qualifier for the World Championships. In 1992, he came to the Olympic Trials a favorite in the 5,000m, but had to pull out when he got a stress fracture the day before his race. In 1993, he won the U.S. title at 5,000m, but pulled off the World team because of a last-minute injury. In 1995, he made another World team, and again withdrew.
Giusto's run of misfortune is probably unprecedented, yet in Atlanta, he finally stepped on an Olympic track wearing the red, white and blue. He ran 14:30.76 to finish ninth in his heat, an Olympian at last.
He points out that he could well return to the track in the future, but only for fun. He has no more interest in contending for teams. "If I do run on the track," he says, "it may be a 10K. I have never run one on the track."
For 1997, Giusto has his eyes on national titles at every road distance from 5K to 15K. "I started laying the groundwork last year," he says. "I had a good 10K last season that gave me an indication of what my potential is, and then I ran my first 15K, which was fairly easy. My new goal is to win every one of those national champs this year. The tough one will be the 15K, especially if Todd Williams is there. But there's really no one out there who intimidates me."
Now working with Albuquerque coach Mike Middlestadt, Giusto feels the coaching change will help better prepare him for racing on the roads. That's not the only change in his life. He's recently become a partner in a carpet cleaning business, and in October he was married.
Business owner? Husband? It sounds as if Giusto is leaving the vagabond life of a full-time runner behind. He admits it, saying he needs a bit more mental stimulation these days. A sign of the aging process?
"Everyone says, 'Aw you're getting old; you're going to slow down.' But I've always been an athlete who has gotten better and better as I got older," says Giusto. "I know that's going to stop soon, but my training is going as good as it's ever gone.
"I have another four or five years in my career that I feel will be the best years of my running. This has opened the door to a new career. I'm going into my 17th year of running. Each level I've excelled at and I feel very good about it: High school, college, post-collegiate, and doing the Europe thing. Even though I think I'm a long distance away from running my best 5,000 on the track, I've worked at it and I've done it for enough years that I say now, 'Let's just go to the next level.'"