LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - LAKE CHARLES – Former McNeese standout distance runner and Hathaway native Jarrett LeBlanc locked in his spot in the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials over the weekend when he finished in 10th place at the California International Marathon in Sacramento.
It will be his second time to compete in the Olympic trials but his first as an A Standard runner.
LeBlanc, an All-Southland Conference cross country runner as well as a five-time medalist (two gold) at the league indoor and outdoor championships during his career from 2009-13, ran a time of 2:13.49 in this past weekend’s race, bettering his personal best by more than eight minutes. But it didn’t come with all the glory.
LeBlanc was running in fifth place with about 400 yards to go when he was forced to start walking due to severe stomach cramps.
“I couldn’t breath and expand my lungs,” he said. “I tried to stretch it out for 15-20 seconds, and during that time, several runners had passed me. Then one of my teammates passed by and patted me on the back and said ‘come on dude, you have 400 yards left’. That’s when I sucked it up and sprinted to the finish line.”
The last time LeBlanc ran in the Olympic trials, he did so as a B Standard runner, meaning even had he won the race he wasn’t guaranteed a spot on the Olympic team. Now as an A Standard runner, that dream of representing the United States in the 2020 Olympics is real.
“The A guys are the top runners,” said LeBlanc. "There might be 200 guys running in the trials but only about 30 of us will be A Standard. A win is the ultimate goal but to be in the top three is the goal. I’m not going Atlanta to run a PR or to run a slow or fast race. It’s about running smart to be able to come out on top. A lot of things can happen in the final 400 meters. That was proven to me the other day.”
LeBlanc said qualifying for this Olympic trail means more than what it did the first go around.
“That’s because I did all my training in Louisiana,” he said. "I trained in Hathaway and in Lake Charles at the McNeese track. I’m in the best shape of my life. I probably did it the hard way doing it at home because of more distractions, but it means twice as much. Before, I did all my training in Houston.”
The 28-year old said he’s not the typical marathon runner when it comes to training.
“I’ve always been a low-mileage runner when training and really haven’t changed that up. I’m in my prime now. A 2:13 marathon just doesn’t happen. I’ve worked my tail off.”
The 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials will be held in Atlanta on Feb. 29, 2020.