Jared Ward and Luke Puskedra resumed their longtime rivalry — one that began in high school — in Monday morning’s Boston Marathon, and once again they found themselves running side by side.
The 6-foot-4 Puskedra, a Utah native who graduated from Judge Memorial High, ran with Ward for part of the race and then passed him with two miles to go to finish in ninth place.
Ward, the Olympic marathoner from BYU and Davis High, placed 10th.
Puskedra’s time was 2:14:45; Ward 2:15:28.
It was a reversal of their finish in last year’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, in which Ward finished third and Puskedra fourth, one place from making the team. Ward went on to finish sixth in the Olympic Games with a time of 2:11:30.
African runners carried the day in Boston. Kenya’s Kirui Geoffrey won the men’s race with a time of 2:09:37. Another Kenyan, Edna Kiplagat, won the women’s race in 2:21:52, 59 seconds ahead of Bahrain’s Rose Chelimo. Africans took eight of the top 10 spots in the women’s race.
American Galen Rupp, a bronze medalist in the Rio Olympic marathon and a silver medalist in the 10,000-meter run in the London Olympics, was second in the men's race in 2:09:58.
America's Jordan Hasay, making her marathon debut, was third in 2:23:00. Another American, Desiree Linden, was fourth in 2:25:06.
“I had hoped for more in terms of place and time,” said Ward, “but I was pleased with my effort.”
Ward was beset with stomach problems just six miles into the race, which made it difficult to drink water. Instead, he mostly poured water over his head to try to cool down. “There were a couple of times I didn’t know if I could make it to the finish, especially at about Mile 23,” he says. “I was light-headed and heavy-legged. But it was motivating to think of the 30,000 runners behind me who were going to get to the finish line for their family and friends.”
Ward’s training in the months leading up to the Boston race were far from ideal. He had a groin injury that forced him to stop running for one month before resuming light training in December. “I certainly was not in the fitness I was going into Rio,” he says. “But I’m healthy now and I hope it translates into a good summer and a good fall marathon.”
Puskedra, an All-American at Oregon, actually quit the sport following a poor performance in his marathon debut in 2014 (36th place in the New York City Marathon in 2:28:54). He took two months off and gained more than 20 pounds before deciding to return to the sport. He went on to place fifth in the Chicago Marathon in 2:10:24.
Puskedra and Ward had several tight races in high school, especially in cross-country. “I’ve known Luke a long time,” says Ward. “I ran next to him for a while (on Monday) and were working together for a while, and then he passed me.”