Time to step up
A re-energized and more focused Krummenacker needs to shine at trials
Posted: Friday July 9, 2004 2:58PM; Updated: Friday July 9, 2004 3:36PM
Now that he's arrived at another track and field trials, his lanky body trained and healthy, it's time for David Krummenacker to put up or shut up. The same can be said of everyone setting up shop in Sacramento this week.
Krummenacker steps on the track this weekend to prove that:
1) he is indeed the U.S.' fastest 800-meter man.
2) matching strides in the cruel Arizona heat with African training partners the last few years isn't just a "nice story."
3) that he can handle the spotlight.
If the name fails to ring a bell, there is a reason. Krummenacker, 29, hasn't come close to making an Olympic team -- he was a disappointing 12th in the 1,500 meters four years ago at the trials while not even advancing to the 800 finals. But based purely on clockings, topped by a 1:43.92 in the 800, it could be argued that he's one of America's top middle-distance guys since Jim Ryun in the mid-1960s. Krummenacker had a dream season in the 800 two years ago, beating the Kenyans at their own game and running to victories on the European circuit.
Krummenacker enters the trials as the top-seed in the 800. That two-lapper is his singular focus. No doubling in the 1,500 this time. No worries about logging too many training miles or over-racing. Quite the contrary, Krummenacker comes in rested, running just two 800 races this outdoor season.
Chalk up the lighter schedule to lessons learned from a dreadful experience four years ago. Like a lot of runners, Krummenacker went off to train at altitude without knowing of the need to increase iron intake. So he ran tired at the trials and days later was diagnosed as suffering from anemia.
"In the 1,500 final, I felt like I was running backwards," Krummenacker remembers. "I went back to Atlanta and saw a doctor, cause I felt something was wrong. And it turned out I was anemic. I had been training at altitude for like three months prior to that in hopes of really having a great performance, but I didn't know so much about altitude and neither did my coach. So I wasn't taking iron, which is one of most important things you do when you go to train at altitude.
"That was really difficult for me. The Olympics is everybody's dream. And not making that team was really hard."
So it was time to tear things up. Krummenacker left the humidity of Atlanta to run in the dry heat of Tucson, Ariz. He left his college coach and hooked up with renowned Brazilian guru Luiz DeOliveira, who focuses less on training mileage and more on quality. And after training by himself in Atlanta, Krummenacker fit into an elite group of African track stars led by Patrick Nduwimana of Burundi, one of the world's top-ranked 800 runners.
The Georgia Tech grad also moved in with Nduwimana and Fidel Baretensabe, another quality middle-distance runner from Burundi. Matching daily strides has proven good, while doing wonders for Krummenacker's psyche.
"I guess it's aided in the fact that some Americans have this idea that African athletes or the Kenyans are almost super human," Krummenacker says. "And they are beyond anybody else. And they've been running since they were thee years old. When you are actually training, you realize these guys are like everybody else. They hurt just like you hurt. They are mentally a little bit tougher than some American athletes, but training with them has helped me realize everybody comes from the same place and we're all human."
Has it paid dividends? So far, yes -- though the Olympic trials and Athens Games (assuming he gets there) will be the ultimate pay off.
What's measurable is that after the 2002 season, Krummenacker was the top-ranked American in both the 800 and 1,500. Even more impressive, he defeated world record-holder Wilson Kipketer and some of the biggest names in the sport. Walking around as the world's third-ranked 800-meter runner also boosted his confidence.
"I just have the mind frame that when I am in shape, when I'm on top of my game, I can run with the best out there," he says. "It is just a matter of running smart races and being mentally tough."
Somehow, you get the feeling that Krummenacker is ready to tap his enormous potential and make a name for himself at this week's trials.
Mike Fish is a senior writer for SI.com.