Will Meb Come Out of Retirement?

Can Keflezighi make a fifth Olympic team at 44 years old?

Sure, Meb Keflezighi said he retired after last fall’s New York City Marathon, but this piece, written by my good friend and colleague Brian Metzler, suggests he might be having second thoughts at the age of 43.

“I still believe I can run 2:12 or 2:13, and maybe even faster on a great day,” the four-time Olympian told Metzler for Runner’s World. “The question that I have to ask myself is whether or not I want to do the work to get in 2:14 shape. I really don’t know.” 

I’ll take this story a step further and thicken the plot a little bit. I was fortunate enough to have dinner with Meb and Chris Heuisler of RunWestin in Chicago a couple Fridays ago and Meb shared with us that he was playing soccer in the backyard with one of his daughters recently and she said to him, “Daddy, I think you should try for another Olympics!” It caught Meb off guard and prompted a few follow-up questions, but it clearly had an effect on him.

So why is Meb even thinking about a return to competitive running at this point? Because if he could run 2:12-13, which he thinks he can (personally, I believe he could run 2:09-2:10, for what it’s worth), he’d have a realistic shot at making a fifth Olympic team in February 2020, and that’s an incredibly motivating prospect to him. Aside from Rupp, who ran 2:06 earlier this year, has an Olympic medal in the event, and is arguably on another level in the marathon compared to anyone else in the U.S., it’s a wide open playing field. As of right now, there are maybe 10-12 2:12-ish (+/- 2 minutes) guys who could legitimately contend for a spot in Atlanta 17 months from now. Meb could absolutely be one of them.

Look, I have no idea if Meb will actually come out of retirement or not—if I had to bet, I’d give it a 30% chance that he pulls a Michael Jordan-like comeback circa 1995—but I do know this: if he’s on the start line, you can never count him out of contention.

+ If Meb does come out of retirement, I hope he starts posting more of his workouts to Strava. In the past, he’s been notoriously cagey about the specifics of his training and I think it’d be equal parts interesting and exciting to follow his buildup to the 2020 Trials.