Saying that he wasn’t willing to give 105% in preparing for this month’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, Matt Tegenkamp, a member of two Olympic and three World Championship teams, has ended his professional running career.
“Throughout my career, I lived 24/7, 365 days a year as an athlete,” Teg says. “When I started the real build-up last fall for the marathon trials, I realized I wasn’t willing to live like that anymore. I wasn’t fully vested, and that’s not what my career has been about.”
Matt had one of the most distinguished careers of any recent U.S. distance runner. Between 2007 and 2012, he made every global outdoor track team: three times at 5,000 meters (2007 World Championships, 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Championships) and twice at 10,000 meters (2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics). His highest finish in that setting was fourth at the 2007 Worlds.
Teg was also fast. In 2007, he set the American record for 2 miles (8:07.07). With his PR of 12:58.56, he’s one of only six Americans to break 13:00 for 5,000 meters. (And we’re pretty sure he’s the only person ever to go sub-13:00 in arm warmers!) In an era of specialization, Matt’s range was an anomaly, with PRs of 3:34.25 for 1500 meters, 27:28.22 for 10,000 meters and 212:28 for the marathon, and national road titles at 5K, 10K and 20K thrown in for good measure.
Despite those accomplishments, Matt names something more subjective as what he’s most proud of.
“Being a part of getting American distance running back on the map is definitely tops for me,” he says. “It started with mentors like Bob Kennedy and Pascal Dobert, but from my youth, being at the start of finding our limit again and seeing how far we could push ourselves and getting the best out of ourselves, that was great. With Ryan Hall, Alan Webb, Dathan Ritzenhein, we were breaking down barriers, and it was fun to be part of that over a period of 10 to 15 years.”
Teg says he’s also proud to have been the linchpin of what became the Bowerman Track Club under long-time coach Jerry Schumacher, who, with Matt, Chris Solinsky and Evan Jager, moved from Madison, Wisconsin to Portland, Oregon after the 2008 Olympics.
“The environment we created, that’s something I feel really good about,” Matt says. “That mentality of being unafraid of having a lot of talented people around you, that’s going to help you become the best runner you can be.”
Teg now works in product creation for Nike at the main campus in Beaverton. He began that role in a part-time capacity in the spring of 2013, and has gradually increased his hours to full-time status.
The 34-year-old says he still enjoys running, and usually gets in an hour a day, often with Bowerman Track Club members. But, he says, “I won’t miss being away from my family while at altitude camp, or while being away at races. Now on weekends, I look forward to long hikes, or sledding with the kids, or building sand castles at the beach, and that’s great.”