Thursday, February 16, 2012

Look Who's Running the Shamrock Shuffle: It's Abdi!

Abdi chats with Carey Pinkowski (barely visible) on Jan. 31.
Carey Pinkowski got his wish. Or at least he sort of did. The executive race director for Chicago's Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle and the Chicago Marathon wanted three-time (soon to be four-time come the London Olympics this summer) Olympian Abdi Abdirahman to run the streets of Chicago at the 2012 Chicago Marathon. That's what Pinkowski expressed when Abdi was in town on Jan. 31 to help kick off the opening of the marathon's registration. Abdi has run the Windy City's marathon before--it's where he PR'd with a 2:08:56 at the 2006 race--but asking to do it roughly two months after running the Olympic marathon is a tall order, even for an Olympian.

But no one ever said that the marathon's sister race, the Shamrock Shuffle 8K, known by many as the race that kicks off Windy City running season and previews a small portion of the marathon course, was off the table. And according to yesterday's news, it's not.

When race day rolls around on Sunday, March 25, Abdi will lead the way for the Shuffle's 40,000-runner field--if you want to join him, registration is still open. He'll be using the Shuffle as a launch pad for his training after recovering from January's U.S. Olympic Trials. Not a bad place to do it considering it's so flat here and because he credits Chicago as being instrumental in launching his marathon career.

"The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K will be my first competitive race since the Olympic Trials, and I can't wait to put my racing flats back on and get my season started along with 40,000 other runners in Chicago," Abdi said in a press release. "I really enjoyed my time here earlier in the month and got to meet many of the local runners. I definitely feel the enthusiasm and support of the Chicago running community and that is something I am going to soak up at the Shamrock Shuffle and take with me all the way to the Olympic Games. I love racing and am ready to go head-to-head again after recovering from the Trials."

The 8K race is also good prep for another race that Abdi hopes to qualify to run at this summer's Olympic Games: the 10K. He previously competed in the 10,000 meters at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Games, and at the kick-off event he made it sound like he'd be at the track and field trials to try to qualify once again. As Pinkowski put it, "Abdi has world-class track credentials and is a three-time Olympian in the 10,000 meters, so it will be fun to watch him put his leg speed to the test on our flat and fast 8K course."

If only I could keep up. Maybe in my dreams, or maybe it'll power me faster toward the finish line. As long as it doesn't snow like 2009 or have a heat wave like 2011.

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