The Post-Journal

Swanson Back In Top Form

Sherman Native Shines Among Elite Field In Conn. Race

Nolan Swanson has been training and competing with some of the best distance runners in the world the last few years.It's beginning to pay dividends - big time.

The Sherman native, who spent much of 2000 trying to overcome a nagging tendon injury in his foot, is rounding into top shape.

His Thanksgiving Day performance at the Manchester (CT) Road Race was proof of that.

Swanson, running for Nike, toured the 4.747-mile course in 22:05, good for seventh place in a field of 11,000. Even more impressive was the fact that the former Wake Forest All-American outlasted some of the world's top distance runners, including U.S. Olympian Bob Kennedy, who finished 12th.

"I never thought I would have beaten him, even if he had a bad day," Swanson said. "I've known about him since I was at Sherman (High School). He owns all the records. Clearly he didn't have his regular day. He said he cramped up at the one-mile mark. The whole second mile was uphill. At the top of it was where I got past him."

Leonard Muchero, a world-class miler from Kenya, was the winner in 21:40. Dan Browne of Boulder, CO was second in 21:52 and Aurelio Miti Handanga was third in 21:54.

"I was just hoping to get into the top ten," Swanson said from his home in Eugene, OR Friday night. "I didn't run too well two weeks ago (in the National 10K in Mobile, AL). I was ninth and was beaten by a lot of guys who don't normally beat me."

But he was at his best Thursday in front of a crowd of 50,000 that lined the road course.

"This race shows to me that I'm back to where I was before I got hurt, and probably a little past there," Swanson said.

In addition to outlasting Kennedy, the two-time Olympian and holder of the American record for the 5,000 and 3,000 and the two-mile, Swanson also held off training partners Nick Rogers of the United States and Karl Keska of England, Rogers, who finished 14th, set a record at National 10K in Mobile two weeks ago, while Keska was eighth in that distance at the Olympic Games in Sydney last year.

Swanson said a recent 25-day training session in the Cascade Mountains helped both him and Rogers.

"There were no phone lines and no TVs, but we ran 125 miles a week," Swanson said. "That's probably why Nick won the 10K and I did well this week."

Swanson returns to Mobile next weekend where he'll run in the USA Fall Cross Country Nationals a week from today. After that he'll go into a two-month "training phase," with his sights set on earning a spot on the U.S. National Cross Country Team. Last year, Swanson finished 12th. He needs to finish in the top six to make the American squad.

"One of my main goals in my whole career is to make that world championship cross country team," Swanson said. "That's as much a goal as making the Olympic team. It's at the same level of competition, but nobody pays attention to it."

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