Former SIU cross-country runner Jason Ordway took a shot at qualifying for the 2012 Olympics Saturday alongside his brother and fellow competitor Josh Ordway.
Although Jason Ordway’s performance at the Olympic Trails in Houston did not qualify him, he finished 60th with a time of 2 hours 21 minutes and 2 seconds. Jason Ordway was one of of 85 men and 152 women who competed in the trials.
Jason Ordway, a Bellbrook, Ohio native, qualified for the Olympic Trials Oct. 17, 2010 during the Nationwide Better Health Columbus Marathon in Columbus, Ohio, with a winning time of 2 hours, 18 minutes and 8 seconds. It was Jason Ordway’s first event as a marathon runner, and he finished 3 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher.
He said his success began on the SIU cross-country team where he was an all-conference and an NCAA regional qualifier. Cross-country coach Matt Sparks said Jason Ordway was one of the most dedicated runners on the team, and always pushed himself during training.
Although Jason Ordway said he considered himself one of the top five runners at the time, he didn’t see himself as a star. When it came to the idea of trying out for the Olympics, he said he was hesitant.
After some encouragement from his brother Josh Ordway, Jason Ordway decided to train for a spot on the Olympic Marathon team. Josh Ordway, a graduate from Princeton University, also qualified to run in the Olympic Trials and trained with his brother.
“We’ve been able to get to the same fitness level approximately, so a lot of our features for all of our runs are the exact same,” Josh Ordway said. “So we can go out and run an easy run together, or if we have a hard workout we can do the entire thing together and still benefit for it.”
These training sessions are what prepared Jason Ordway for the rigorous 26.2-mile marathon, he said. Although cross-country and marathons are similar in distance, Jason Ordway said the training differs and preparation for the marathon wasn’t what he was used to.
“It was running a lot more miles and a lot longer, maybe not as fast as I was in college, but it was a ton more volume,” Jason Ordway said.
While they trained for the trials, the Ordways ran 120 to 140 miles per week at a slower pace to ensure their bodies had enough time to recover. Three days of the week are for rigorous, faster workouts, with a day for one long run as well. When not training for a marathon, Jason Ordway said he still manages to run two times a day, six days a week, with the addition of a long run on Sunday.
Running several miles can strain any runner’s body, but Jason Ordway credits his durability for allowing him to train at a high level. Jason Ordway said he wore out about 15 to 20 different pairs of shoes while training in the past year.
As one of the younger racers in the field, Jason Ordway said, qualifying at his age has been a huge boost to his confidence. But he said he is also lacking in the training and experience of the older runners.
During the weeks that lead up to the trial, Jason Ordway said he eased down his workouts to allow his body to be at 100 percent by the day of the race.
“I took it down about 10 percent two weeks ago, and another 10 to 20 percent this week,” Jason Ordway said. “There is not a whole lot more you can gain during the two week before the event. I’m probably as fresh as I’ve been in the last six months to a year as I am right now.”
Jason Ordway said he looks to start a new chapter in his life as he begins to apply for medical school.
Ordway said his time at SIU was some of the best of his life, and he still keeps in touch with his friends from the cross-country team.
“The guys on the team are the best friends I ever had. We may not keep in touch as well as we’d like but when we get together it’s still a bunch of really good times,” Jason Ordway said. “Some of the best memories I had happened to me in college.