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Laura Thweatt ready to go the distance in marathon debut

Former University of Colorado runner Laura Thweatt powers through a 3K training session last week in Boulder in preparation for her marathon debut in New York City on Sunday.
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Former University of Colorado runner Laura Thweatt powers through a 3K training session last week in Boulder in preparation for her marathon debut in New York City on Sunday.

How to watch

The 2015 New York City Marathon will be televised live on ESPN2 from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. MT Sunday. The race will also be live on and via the WatchABC app, as well as via WatchESPN on computers, tablets, smartphones and Amazon Fire.

Darting off a well-worn starting line marked out on the bike path next to the Flatirons Golf Course on a recent Friday morning, Laura Thweatt was right in the middle of a dozen of her Boulder Track Club teammates, fast guys and women, heading off for a 3,000-meter all-out time trial.

It was her final workout before Sunday’s New York City Marathon, where Thweatt will run her first marathon. And right in the middle of the lead pack is where she plans to be come Sunday.

“I am excited, yet anxious,” Thweatt, 26, a former University of Colorado runner, said after finishing her 3K in 9 minutes, 17 seconds. “I have heard a lot about the marathon and want to see how it goes. I just really want to go and compete.”

Thweatt will get her chance to compete against some of the best in the world, starting with defending New York champ Mary Keitany and 2015 Boston Marathon winner Caroline Rotich, both from Kenya, and Ethiopian 2015 London marathon champ Tigist Tufa.

Oh, and throw in Sally Kipyego. Yes, the Texas Tech 11-time NCAA champ who battled the University of Colorado’s Jenny Simpson many times during their collegiate careers. Kipyego is also making her marathon debut.

It is Thweatt’s debut that has local fans excited, as she joins past CU runners Dathan Ritzenhein, Kara Goucher, Clint Wells and Jorge Torres in racing the world’s largest marathon. More than 50,000 are expected to finish this year.

Running well at New York would be a nice bookend to Thweatt’s year, one that began Feb. 7 on Flatirons’ fairways with a victory at the 2015 USA cross country national championships. It was the biggest win yet for the Colorado native, who had best finishes of second in cross country and the 2-mile at Durango High School, followed by a solid, not spectacular, CU career.

That day in February, Thweatt was smooth and strong in pulling away from the senior women’s field on the third of the four-lap 8K course. She seemed set for a breakout summer on the track.

A foot injury, however, slowed her training and racing, and after placing 29th at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in China in March, Thweatt took a break, watching from the sidelines, unable to attempt to make the team for August’s World Track and Field Championships.

That left her and her coach, Lee Troop, hungry to end the year on the upswing. That is where New York comes in.

“I told Laura, ‘We could do something similar to years past, or we could change it up and run the marathon,’ ” said Troop, a three-time Olympian. “New York is something different, to challenge her.”

It will indeed be a challenge, said Thweatt, whose goal is making the 2016 Olympic team in the 10,000 meters. “If I can run 26 miles, I can run 25 laps (on the track), right? We’ve been talking about the marathon, and it got here fast. It’s good to be back and fit. I am as ready as I can be.”

Thweatt, an assistant coach at Monarch High School, showed her readiness earlier this month at the Medtronic 10-miler, where she broke Kara Goucher’s course record on her way to placing fourth.

Goucher, a Boulder two-time Olympian, made her own marathon debut – fastest ever by an American woman — in New York, in 2008, placing third.

“My only advice to Laura would be to run her own race,” Goucher wrote in an email. “She will know what she is ready to run, stick to that pace, especially in the first 16 miles. The NYC marathon course is especially challenging over the final stages, and she is better to be conservative than aggressive.”

Added Goucher, “Between running at CU and running with Lee Troop, Laura has a great base. She seems primed to make a great, solid debut.”


Thweatt and her teammates will attend the Boulder Track Club’s annual awards and fundraising dinner on Nov. 7 at the American Legion Hall, 4780 28th St. The public is invited. Tickets, $35 for nonmembers, $30 for members, at