Don’t tell Shalane Flanagan or Evan Jager that the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K is supposed to be just for fun.
“It’s been a motivating factor throughout my fall,” said Flanagan, who appeared with Jager on a Google+ Hangout on Thursday afternoon to talk about the race. “Seeing the names yesterday [on the pro entry list], it gave a little incentive to everything and a little more purpose to everything I do over these next couple of weeks.”
The 5K on November 2, the day before the ING New York City Marathon, will feature 11 Olympians, 13 women with personal bests under 15:30, 16 men who have run under 13:30, 12 current or former U.S. Champions, and 18 current or former NCAA Champions. In addition to Flanagan and Jager, the deep list of pro athletes includes Chris Derrick, Nick Willis, Lopez Lomong, Ben True, Molly Huddle, Kim Conley, Sally Kipyego, and Emily Infeld.
Flanagan, a three-time Olympian who finished second in the 2010 ING New York City Marathon in her debut at the distance, will run the 5K after opting out of competing in a fall marathon. She finished fourth in the Boston Marathon last spring, and 10th in the London Olympics after winning the Olympic Marathon Trials.
“My coach and I felt it was the best thing for me to take a little break away from the really hard, rigorous training of marathoning,” she said.
Jager, the U.S. record-holder in the 3000-meter steeplechase who finished sixth in the London Olympics, acknowledged some concern about the 5K, given that he took three weeks off after competing in the NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile Presented by Nissan in late September.
“I feel like I’m not in the best shape yet, and definitely seeing the fields released yesterday got me a little bit nervous and opened my eyes up, like ‘OK, I definitely have to get back to work right now,’” he said. “So I’m going to put in some really hard miles over the next couple of weeks and try to build some fitness really quickly. I definitely do not want to get embarrassed.”
For the complete Hangout, in which Jager drops a marathon hint and assesses his steeplechase form and Flanagan gives advice on chilling during the two weeks before running a marathon, click here.