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Heath Rides Confidence Into New Balance Games

Published by
ArmoryTrack.com   Jan 24th 2014, 12:44am

Heath Rides Confidence Into New Balance Games

By Doug Binder for ArmoryTrack.com

Garrett Heath was seated next to a group of elite high school boys for breakfast on the morning of the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country race on Jan. 11. 

"It must feel great to be in a race with (Asbel) Kiprop and (Kenenisa) Bekele," one of the younger runners said. 

Heath, a former All-American at Stanford and one of America's top professional milers, paused for a moment and then offered: "You know what would be even better? To beat those guys."

Heath said Thursday that he made that comment in jest. But hours after he said it, Heath ran away from the two Olympic champions and an international field to win the 4-kilometer cross country event in 11:51.

It's been a busy couple of weeks for Heath, who will race the mile at the New Balance Games on Saturday at The New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory. Just this week, he switched shoe companies, going from Saucony to Brooks. It's a move that will entail an eventual move to Seattle. 

"Things are all over the place this week," Heath said. "I moved my stuff into storage in Palo Alto over Christmas Break, I was home (in Minnesota) for Christmas and then I went to see my brother (Elliott) in Portland. So I've been living out of a suitcase. Things have been a little bit more up in the air and hectic than I'd like."

The cross country race in Scotland kicked Heath's 2014 into high gear. 

"I didn't know what to expect," Heath said. "My plan going in was to get out, stay with some of the good guys in the top end there and see how I felt. It was a huge confidence boost to feel good, especially running cross country for the first time since college."

It wasn't the first time Heath felt confident running with some of the world's best. 

"I think I gained some confidence last year at the mile in Newcastle, where I beat Kiprop," he said. "You always take confidence when you beat guys who are accomplished like that. Guys like Bekele, if they're on their game, are really hard to beat."

Saturday, Heath will see if his hot streak continues.

"I'll be ready to go this weekend," he said. "I haven't done much mile-specific work, but a lot of base and aerobic stuff. I do feel like I'm in good shape. I'll touch on the mile speed a bit but I always run on strength a bit more than speed anyway. Hopefully this weekend I can do something pretty good to kick the (track) season off right."

Photo: John Nepolitan

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