The low profile star - Tucson News Now

The low profile star

Tucson, AZ (KOLD) - He sat there quietly, resting on the short brick wall in front of McKale Center. Red Nike t-shirt. Red Arizona Wildcat hat. Nondescript. Just another guy checking his cell phone waiting for a friend in the warm Tucson sun.

But he wasn't just another guy and maybe if the students passing him knew that, they would have been more impressed.

Two Sundays ago, former Wildcat Abdi Abdirahman finished as the top American male, 3rd overall, in the New York Marathon, a mark made more impressive when one considers that Abdirahman hadn't run a marathon in two and a half years.

"Finishing third was just incredible," he said. "I exceeded my expectations. There's only three spots and I got one of them."

There was more to it, though. Not only was he top American finisher, but at the age of 39 Abdirahman had created a special footnote next to his name as the oldest male to ever finish in the top three in the marathon's history.

"Nothing happens unless you train for it and put in the work," said Abdirahman. "For me, age wasn't even in my head. I never thought about it while I was racing the young guys. At the starting line up, the last thing on my mind was the age. I just wanted to get out there and compete."

When Molly Huddle also finished third, it marked the first time in 22 years that two Americans took the podium.

"It was great for U.S. distance running," said Abdirahman. "Both of us, we have something in common. We both train in Arizona. She did her build-up in Phoenix. I did my build-up in Flagstaff and Tucson. So it was amazing and great for the state of Arizona.

As far as for what's next? Abdirahman is undecided. Likely another full marathon. Some half marathons. Maybe even return to New York next year.

"Try to improve my position," he said. "Which is going to be tough. But you've got to shoot for the sky."

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