The Victory Lap: Jarrod Ottman🏆
We’re joined this week by Jarrod Ottman! The man from Merrimack, New Hampshire who graduated from Thomas College in 2020 with 3000m and 5000m bests of 8:39 and 15:36 just qualified for the 2024 Marathon Olympic Trials, running 2:16:35 at the California International Marathon — in his debut! We’re excited to be sharing a few OTQ stories in the lead-up to Orlando and to tell the stories of athletes that may not be known to the average reader/viewer! Jarrod talks with us about how he prepared for his debut, where he got his start in the sport, and what his plans are going forward after finding immediate success at the full marathon distance.
Massive congratulations for qualifying for the Olympic Trials! Was it always going to be ‘OTQ or bust’ going into CIM?
Yeah, I mean, to be honest, I don't even think I decided I was doing CIM until earlier this year when I moved out to Colorado. People were talking about it and I was like, ‘oh yeah… I guess I should probably run one of those soon if I want to try to qualify for the Trials.’
So I picked it earlier this spring and basically made the decision to adjust training a bit towards that race, and then yeah, it was really OTQ or bust for that race. The training wasn't anything special. There's nothing really to highlight.
You just have to build mileage and run a lot at marathon pace and just get used to it. I threw in some faster stuff occasionally, but I mostly just hung on to high mileage – higher mileage, I only did a couple of 100-mile weeks. Like I said, nothing crazy.
I had a couple of really, really good workouts that kind of just made it feel like, ‘okay, this is definitely going to happen.’ It was more how I feel on race day. I showed up to the line healthy, and I felt really good.
The plan was to negative split it and feel good until the last 10k and it seemed to go pretty well because that's exactly what I did.
The marathon finish line is a pretty electric and infectious place, especially somewhere like CIM where so many people are getting OTQs. What was like for you coming around that last turn?
Oh, it was awesome. Coming around that last turn was wicked cool. You turn the corner and you have everyone on the side of the street just yelling your name, and they're like, “you're going to the Trials!” It's just so cool. Even if your legs hurt and you felt like you could only walk another ten feet, you were going to get that finish line. It was really special.
Please be offended if I’m off here – this is your first OTQ, right?
That was my first-ever marathon. That was my debut!
Oh god! That's incredible. So after graduating college was getting to the trials your main goal or is this more of a byproduct of you wanting to stay fit and keep running?
Honestly, I just wanted to run after college and have fun with it. So I started training with one of my coaches that was at my college my freshman year. And it’s been going really well and the faster I get and the more competitive the races get the more fun it is.
I really like half marathons a lot, but I thought I'd have a better shot running under 2:18 than I did running under 63. So that's kind of where I switched gears.
Who’s coaching you and who are you training with?
Yeah so my coach is Brendan Gilpatrick and he runs Dirigo Endurance – that was the tank I wore at CIM. He coached me freshman year of college. He got another job at a different school and fortunately we kept in touch and talked a little bit here and there. COVID hit right before they kicked us out of school and I ended up messaging him and was like, ‘hey, do you want to do a long run?’
We did a long run and I told him I still wanted to compete. I was like ‘I think I still have some stuff left in the tank. I don't think I really got to do anything close to my potential in college.’ And asked him if he wanted to coach me. He said, ‘absolutely.’
We’ve been training since 2020. I've consistently been throwing PBs out under him. We work together really well. It was the best choice. He’s a really good dude.
The people I train with show up occasionally to a Roots workout here and there. I don’t run with them very often, maybe once every couple of months, I just hop in. Other than that I did my entire build-up with my buddy Alex. I showed up to one Roots long run on my third day of moving to Colorado and started talking to him. I found out he lived 400 meters down the road from me. So we just basically ran and trained together the entire block and it’s been great.
When did you get into the sport and when did you really start leaning into it?
I think I did one indoor season well my junior year of high school. But I mean, I'll be honest with you, I hated it. I was a soccer player. I played varsity soccer and I was just doing track to stay in shape.
I actually showed up to practice and talked to the coach and was like, ‘hey, can I just practice and not do these things, these meets? Because they don't interest me at all.’ And he was basically like, ‘yeah, that's not going to happen.’
So I ended up just like doing track in the offseason, my junior year, but I started really taking it seriously my senior year of high school, 100%. That's when I switched to cross country. I had quit soccer.
My first cross country race was like… Oh my gosh, I think I passed out if I'm being honest. And then by the end of the year ended up in like 16-low 5k shape and got 26th at our meet of champions and that's when I kind of just was like, you know, running is pretty cool. I kind of like this thing.
And then I hopped into college at Thomas and we didn't even have a varsity team for track until my junior year. So I was just doing track to just do track, on my own. I did cross country all four years. I do love me some cross country.
But I think COVID canceling my last track season kind of kickstarted me wanting to keep running because I thought I was getting in a good place and then everything shut down. So I just kind of bunkered down and trained the hardest I ever had. And here I am.
With how successful that debut was, is it scary to start thinking about some bigger performances?
Honestly, I think it did the opposite. When I crossed the line at 2:16 and felt like I figured everything out, it put me in another gear to really want to, like, get faster.
It just makes me more excited. I'm already back to training again. I started last week, but I'm just more excited now to take it more seriously and kind of just keep going and see what happens.
Is there a pie in the sky you’re dreaming about or are you going to get a few more marathons under your belt before we get to that?
I definitely would like to run faster in the next one. Running one marathon definitely doesn't make you an expert, so I'm not sure how it will go in the next one. I kind of got lucky out there. But that’s how it goes sometimes. I had a great day.
So I think I'm just going to kind of take it race by race. I'll definitely go out there and swing for a faster time. I won't be scared to do that. But I don't think I have any real goals set in mind. I think I'm running a marathon in the spring and I’ll try to give myself the best chance at having another good day out there and be competitive with the people around me.
I know we’re pretty far out, but do you have any immediate goals for Orlando? Is there a time or place you’re already looking for? One of my buddy’s goal’s in Atlanta was to beat as many people with contracts as possible.
I don't even think I've thought that far ahead yet. I'm going to go there and I have every intention of competing for whatever I think my fitness level is at that time.
It’s a pretty easy answer to say ‘I want to finish as high as I can,’ but I don't really have any insane stats or a bunch of marathon performances to indicate where I should be aiming. My only goal until now was to qualify, so I’ll have to adjust that as it gets closer. I do want to enjoy that experience. I might lose that mentality if I try to take things too seriously. But right now I plan on just showing up, competing, and having fun.