By Tim Hipps, IMCOM Public AffairsJune 25, 2012
EUGENE, Ore. (June 25, 2012) -- Downpour conditions perfectly suited for Oregon Ducks did not fare well for U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program runner Spc. Joseph Chirlee, a naturalized citizen from Marakwet, Kenya.
"I'm not used to running in the rain," said Chirlee, who was running third among 24 athletes at the midway mark of the 10,000 meters during a driving rainstorm at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials. "My legs cramped and I wasn't able to move."
When race winner Galen Rupp picked up the pace, Chirlee fell from contention in the 25-lap race at historic Hayward Field, June 22. Rupp, who won five NCAA championships during his senior season with the Oregon Ducks, is a three-time USA outdoor champion in the 10,000 meters.
"I wasn't worried about it," two-time Olympian Rupp said of the rain. "I grew up with it and I love running in it."
Chirlee, however, said he felt throttled by the conditions.
"I cramped a lot," Chirlee said. "I wasn't able to respond because of my legs. Otherwise, I would have been very good. I always don't like cold. Cold is not good with me."
Despite starting on the far outside of the second row, Chirlee bolted into fifth place with a time of 1 minute, 5.91 seconds for the first 400 meters. He settled into a rhythm behind Rupp, running between fifth and ninth places for the first 1,600 meters.
Chirlee went through 3,200 meters in 8:56.72, still clinging to third place. He remained there through 6,400 meters with a time of 17:46.96. On the ensuing lap, however, cramps noticeably struck Chirlee, who dropped into eighth place.
Between 8,800 and 9,200 meters, Chirlee ran his slowest lap of the race (1:12.30) and fell into 14th place. He managed to gut it out and finish 15th with a time of 28:17.84.
"I am happy about the race," Chirlee said. "It went well, and I am excited about it. I am happy to represent the Army and I am glad I finished the race. I will keep coming back, all the time."
Rupp won the race with a meet record time of 27:25.33, breaking the mark of 27:36.49 set by Meb Keflezighi on July 9, 2004. Matt Tegenkamp of Portland, Ore., was second in 27.33.94, followed by Portland's Dathan Ritzenhein, a three-time USA 12-kilometer cross-country champion, in 27:36.09.
"We wish them well," Chirlee said of the Nike-sponsored trio that will run for Team USA at the London Olympic Games. "They are going to represent us. Next time, we will try again."
Chirlee had a similar experience Jan. 14, at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials in Houston, where he ran with the lead pack before twisting his ankle around the eight-mile mark and dropping out after 21 miles. He said the ankle did not bother him in Eugene.
"I was back to full speed," Chirlee said. "I was fit. The only problem was I think the rain was too much, and I cramped a lot."