BMW Dallas Marathon newbie aims high with shot at an Olympic trials berth in

Colby Mehmen will make his marathon debut at Sunday’s BMW Dallas Marathon. He hopes to earn an Olympic trials qualifying standard and capture his hometown marathon title in the process.

“I think they go hand in hand,” Mehmen said of needing a sub-2-hour, 19-minute finish. “I’m probably going to have to hit the standard to win it.”

Mehmen, 24, has spent the last five months living and working in Boulder, Colo., training at altitude to put himself in position to contend. He’s been living in his camper van and working at the Boulder Running Co. He considers two-time defending champion Keith Pierce the favorite.

“He has so much experience,” Mehmen said. “He’s the seasoned veteran. Speed doesn’t always translate into the marathon. I might have it in the shorter races, but the marathon is a whole different game.”

Pierce would love a three-peat, something he accomplished at The Cowtown in 2007-09, but he’s also a realist. This is career marathon No. 20, and he turns 39 in April.

“Nothing can replace the feeling of winning,” Pierce said. “But I know there are a lot of young guys. If I could go out and be in the top five, I would be really happy. Qualifying for the trials and things like that are behind me.”

This year, Pierce said his training has been spotty. He has poured more time and energy into his McKinney Boyd cross country and track programs, leaving less time for his own training. Both his boys and girls teams qualified for the regional meet, and three individuals advanced to state.

“It was a good season,” said Pierce, who also teaches classes at Boyd. “That probably took away from my own training, but I’m looking forward to building a program. That requires more energy.”

So does being a dad to soon-to-be 8-year-old triplets.

As Pierce contemplates winding down his competitive career, Mehmen, one of the founders of the local training group Nomad Running, is ramping his up. He’s dreamed about racing the Dallas Marathon ever since he watched it on television as a 9- or 10-year-old, he said.

“I thought, man, it would be really cool one day to go and win that,” he said. “I ran my first half with my dad when I was 11 years old. I have slowly progressed and always wanted to win it.”

Mehmen grew up in Princeton, Texas, and began running Plano Pacers races as a 9-year-old. He qualified for the state cross country meet twice while running at Princeton High. At Stephen F. Austin, he was an NCAA regional qualifier in the 10K on the track.

Speed has propelled Mehmen in his shorter-distance efforts. He learned quickly that marathon training is “a totally different sport.” He bumped up his weekly mileage to as high as 130 miles. He averaged 115 miles a week at altitude during this training block. He also focused on lifting weights, consuming 5,000 calories and sleeping 10 hours as part of his daily regime.

“It’s really hard to balance everything with work, food and training,” he said. “But if you don’t balance it, you notice it immediately the next day. You have to learn to have good balance in your life.”

Mehmen plans to latch on to some half marathoners and hopefully get a bit a protection from the wind before the half marathoners split off.

“I’m going to go out hard and hang on,” he said. “I know it’s a long race, but I’m used to racing out in front. That’s my race plan.”

The chilly forecast won’t deter him. Mehmen’s time in Colorado has helped him acclimate to the cold, windy conditions expected on Sunday.

“It’s been close to single digits in Colorado,” Mehmen said. “I hear there’s going to be a 20-degree wind chill. I’m training in that every day so I should be prepared for race day.”

Men’s marathoners to watch


Name

Age

Home

Dallas Marathon highlights/personal bests
Matt Galvin 26 Dallas Debut marathon, 1:07 half
Colby Mehmen 24 Princeton Half marathon champ in 2016-17
Bruno Morlan 28 Orange County, Calif. 2017 marathon runner-up, 2:28:20
Keith Pierce 38 McKinney Two-time defending champion
Gabriel Zambrano 25 Fort Worth Personal bests: 1:08:41 half, 2:31:27 full

BMW Dallas Marathon

What: 48th BMW Dallas Marathon, half marathon, ultra marathon (50K) and SMU Cox School of Business relay, 10K, 5K, 2-mile walk and kids races

When: Today: 10K at 8:30 a.m.; 5K at 8:45 a.m.; 2-mile walk at 9 a.m.; kids races at 10 a.m. Sunday: full, half and ultra marathon and marathon relay at 8:30 a.m.

Where: Dallas City Hall Plaza, downtown Dallas.

Who: About 8,000 runners for today’s 5K/10K and 16,250 for Sunday’s marathon, half marathon and relay runners

TV: Prerace coverage Sunday, 8-9 a.m., Ch. 8.

Info: bmwdallasmarathon.com

Forecast: Today will be in the low 40s with rain and strong winds making it feel like the mid-30s. Sunday will be in the low 40s and dry with a wind chill in the low 30s.

Marathon course records: Men: 2:12:04, Moses Kororia, 2006. Women: 2:29:55, Svetlana Ponomarenko, 2006.

Half marathon course records: Men: 1:02:58, Valenite Orare, 2006. Women: 1:11:32, Olara Nuta, 2008.