Not many runners set personal marathon bests in their 30s but that statistic certainly hasn’t slowed Josh Izewski.
The Central Bucks East High School graduate, now 33, ran a brilliant 2:11.26 at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia this past July.
That, along with what could be a projected 2:10 or better at this week’s Berlin Marathon should set him up for his second try at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 3.
After a couple years of injury woes, Izewski came out of his fifth-place finish in Australia “healthy and ready to train.” At age 33 and with the Berlin course one of the fastest in the world, he looks poised to put in his best work.
“The world records for the last 10 years have been set there,” Izewski noted in a telephone conversation from his home in Blowing Rock, N.C. “There’s usually perfect weather this time of year, no wind. It should be a good race. It’s always nice when you don’t have to battle the elements.
“Running 2:10 or faster in Berlin would definitely be the goal. Going down to Orlando and having raced in the top five (at Gold Coast) – it all depends on the day.”
As for the Trials themselves, there’s already a bit of controversy because the start has been moved up to noon to accommodate network television. Even though it will be February, you can still catch the odd 80-degree day in central Florida.
Izewski doesn’t sound like he’s concerned. He ran for the University of Florida and knows the do’s and do not’s of running in Florida weather.
“I can remember when I was in school – it was Dec. 15 and we were wearing shorts and short sleeves. It was 80-something degrees. So pretty easily February can be that hot.
“But it is what it is. They’ve already made their decision. Everyone’s got to run in it. I’m not really going to dwell on that. It might end up being a good thing, too, because the middle of summer in Europe (for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games) will be pretty warm. You might have a team that’s better suited to run in the heat. There’s pros and cons but I still think runners would rather run in cooler temperatures.”
As for the age thing, Josh also doesn’t seem to be putting extra pressure on himself. By the time the 2028 Trials roll around, he will be 37.
No big deal. After all, the winner of the 2020 U.S. Trials, Galen Rupp, is still going strong at 37.
“But yeah, there’s pressure not knowing if this is my last best chance to qualify. Yet a lot of guys now are running well into their 40s and late 30s. I think Meb (Keflezighi) was in his late 30s (38) when he won Boston in 2014.”
A trip to Paris in 2024 as a member of the U.S. Olympic Team would be nice but the competition to get there will be fierce.
“After Berlin it will be about 20 weeks and then we’ll start thinking about the preparation for that and everything we need to do in the best position to qualify,” Izewski said. “We’re doing a training camp in Tallahassee. That will definitely help me be prepared for the weather. I think running a course like Berlin this fall with it being flat and fast will definitely help in Orlando where it’s flat.”
One thing Izewski knows for sure: He has to be healthy for Orlando. Before Gold Coast, he was off the roads for quite a while.
“I might be wiser but also older, too, so the risk of injuries are higher,” he acknowledged. “This past December, I had two bulging discs in my lower back, stenosis. So that was about 12 weeks, no running. I think March 1 was the first day I ran. Then I had an epidural injection in my back. We had a training camp planned in Colorado, came off of that healthy. Seven weeks later I ran Broad Street and ran a PR there. And nine weeks later I ran Gold Coast.”
This past April, he made it home and jumped into a Bucks 5K Series race, the Be Kind 5K at Holicong Park. He easily won the race in 14:55.
“I needed something to shake out the rust a little bit,” he explained. “It’s a half-mile from where my parents live and I was going to be there and I was picking up my dogs. It was a good race.”
Prior to focusing on marathons, Izewski was one of the fastest triathletes in the state. But about five years ago he decided to make the switch.
Now if all goes well in Berlin, the Olympic Trials could be the defining moment in his running career. All signs are pointing in that direction.
Sunday – Race for the Rescue, 9 a.m., Warminster Community Park. Contact www.runsignup.com