TOLEDO (WTVG) - Four years ago, Evan Gaynor may have run the best race of any of the competitors in the 2016 United States Olympic Team Trials - Marathon relative to his qualifying time for the event.
The 2004 OHSAA Division II Boys Cross Country State Champion from Delta High School is back in the Olympic trials next month in Atlanta. This time around, the lead up to race day has not been easy.
"Training hasn't been ideal, I have to admit," Gaynor said. "I got a little bit sick; I got that killer cough that was going around, so I missed about a month of workouts. But I'm coming back strong from that.
"That's another thing that, you know, this will be my 16th marathon. If I was a little bit younger and it was only like my third or fourth marathon, I'd probably be a little more freaking out about that right now."
Athletes in the marathon trials may qualify by running a time standard in a certified half marathon or obviously a marathon.
Four years ago in Los Angeles, Gaynor made it into the race by running a half marathon shortly before the deadline.
For 2020 with a faster cut off time, it took three marathons attempts for Gaynor to break the 2 hour and 19 minute mark.
"Last time, I always tell people my strategy was because it was so hot, it was the hottest trials on record, it was 83 degrees out and I knew if you were just decently conservative and finished the race you would do pretty well," Gaynor said.
That strategy led to finishing 56th for Gaynor.
Next month, he'd like a top 50 finish. He will soon leave for Atlanta to preview the course, which has more elevation gain than the Boston Marathon.
"It's definitely going to be a challenge out there," Gaynor said. "The fact that I am able to go preview that and plan ahead for it is going to be a major advantage this time."
Gaynor adds he may stay up to two weeks in Atlanta preparing for the race. But even with the change in elevation and potential for warmer weather, Gaynor says training during Midwest winters provides a lot of mental toughness.
"An event like the Dave's 10 Miler -- which a lot of our runners are familiar with -- if you can run on that course, you can run on about anything," Gaynor said. "Couple years back, it was literally a blizzard there. We still had the race, there's no way we're cancelling the race but it was blowing, driving snow, probably 25-30 mile an hour winds gusting even higher, snow just pelting your face the entire time."