- Jared Ward finished as the top American in the 2019 New York City Marathon with a time of 2:10:45.
- Ward cut more than 90 seconds off his former NYC personal best.
- Ward’s next major race will be the Olympic Marathon Trials in February.
Jared Ward, 31, finished as the top American and sixth place overall at the New York City Marathon on November 3, running 2:10:45. In his third time running in the Big Apple, he shaved more than 90 seconds off his former NYC personal best.
Going into the race, Ward, who was sixth in the 2016 Olympic Marathon and has built a reputation as an excellent tactical racer, was an obvious prerace favorite for top American.
Last year, he finished first for the U.S. and sixth overall in New York in 2:12:24, despite being out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury just two months before the race. The statistics professor at Brigham Young University continued gaining strength through the winter, then lined up in top shape in Boston, where he finished eighth in a personal best 2:09:25.
In a media press conference before New York City, Ward said he felt stronger than ever lining up in the Big Apple.
“I feel as strong as I did before Boston, but my speedwork has been better,” he said. “This is a course I’m well-suited for. I’m optimistic about the race.”
For the first half of the race, Ward was tucked into the chase pack following Shura Kitata, who gapped the pack by a few seconds around mile eight. Once the pack caught Kitata, Ward was among the dozen-strong group that passed halfway in 1:04:49. He lost contact with the lead pack of five when they surged ahead at mile 20, but maintained his composure all the way through the finish.
“I was happy to run with those guys for the first two-thirds of the race,” Ward said after the race. “If you swing for the fences in the early half of the race, you set yourself up for some tough miles in the end. I didn’t have much in the tank in the last few miles.”
Ward was joined in the top 10 by his training partner Connor McMillan, the third American and 10th overall, who finished in 2:12:07. McMillan was a standout at Brigham Young University—Ward’s alma mater—and graduated this past spring. Abdi Abdirahman was the other American in the top 10, placing ninth in a U.S. masters record of 2:11:34.
Ward’s next major race will be the Olympic Marathon Trials, to be run February 29 in Atlanta. He’ll be up against defending trials champion Galen Rupp, who dropped out of the Chicago Marathon last month in his first race since having Achilles surgery in 2018. Rupp’s aura of invincibility among Americans has faded a bit, giving strong tactical racers such as Ward that much more confidence that they can secure an Olympic spot with a top-three finish in Atlanta.
Afterwards, Ward said he was happy with his performance, even though he missed a podium finish.
“Maybe next time I’ll hang on for two miles longer,” Ward said. “Ultimately, I wanted to do something today that established myself as a different marathoner going into the Olympics than I was last time. It takes a little faith to know that when you’re not feeling good at one point in the race, you will feel good later. I’d say I was validated today.”
The runner noted that the on-course support motivated him to kick it in to the finish.
“I always get emotional in New York because of how much support I have here,” Ward said. “I can’t go a few steps without hearing someone scream my name. It’s fantastic.”
While many runners decide to skip a fall marathon before an Olympic year, Ward said he didn’t want to miss an opportunity to snag a top spot in New York.
“Before Rio in fall 2015, I didn’t run a marathon. But I think I’m at a different place now. I was a three-time marathoner going into the last Olympic Trials and now I know the sport more, I know the distance more, and my body recovers from it a little faster. When I’m healthy and fit, I want to race,” Ward said. “It’s been a goal for a long time to finish on the podium of a major marathon. I know that to others, an Olympic team maybe means more, but to me, a top three finish at a major marathon means just as much.”
Ward has also been busy outside of racing. On last week’s episode of Shark Tank, he and his colleagues at MyoStorm received funding for a massage therapy ball called The Meteor—which he will likely be needing after today.