Athlete Spotlight: Matt Tegenkamp

Athlete Spotlight: Matt Tegenkamp

Provided by USATF

Less than a month ago Matt Tegenkamp found himself in the Olympic final of the men’s 10,000m in a race that turned out to produce one of the most memorable moments of the entire Olympic Games.

“That Saturday night of the 10,000m, August 4th, it was the night that Britain won three gold medals in 30 minutes,” Tegenkamp said. “It was the craziest, loudest and most enthusiastic atmosphere I have ever been a part of, and I have been on some pretty big stages in my career. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to verbalize what it truly was; it was truly pandemonium in there.”


While the home crowd went wild for Mo Farah’s win and American’s rejoiced over Galen Rupp’s runner-up finish, Tegenkamp finished in 19th place in 28:18.26.

“I didn’t run my best performance,” Tegenkamp said. “But I got to be a small part of representing Team USA. On that day I gave it what I had, but it isn’t always about the performance, a lot of it is about the experience. Being a two-time Olympian is something that years down the line I will reflect on and know that in my career I accomplished everything I needed to.”

After the race, Tegenkamp spent four days living in the Olympic moment before moving on to the next chapter of his racing season. He brought his family into the village, toured London and indulged in McDonald’s breakfasts.

Upon returning home to Portland, Tegenkamp found himself dealing with the reality that the Olympics had ended and the adjustment was not particularly easy.

“It is amazing that it is a two year build-up and it is absolutely over in the blink of an eye,” Tegenkamp said. “The adjustment back from London was probably the most difficult I’ve ever had in my career. I think it goes to show the mental and emotional toll that it takes, let alone the physical side of things.”

While Tegenkamp and his coach Jerry Schumacher considered returning to Europe for some more track races, neither was sure it was the best idea.

“My coach came up to me on the run one day and asked me what I thought about the 20k,” Tegenkamp said. “I said that sounds like an exciting new challenge and it is definitely time for me to explore the roads and get used to all of the different things that it can throw at you. It is definitely going to be a new challenge for me.”

When Tegenkamp lines up on Labor Day morning at the USA 20 km Championships, it will be the first time since 2009 that he has competed in a road race, and the first time he’s ever raced longer than a 5 km on the road.

While he has yet to cement a solid race plan or set any goals outside of the automatic personal record, Tegenkamp is focused on learning how to race on the roads.

“I think at the point I am at in my career I am not naïve enough to think that my track career is going to go on forever and ever,” Tegenkamp said. “I am in a very fortunate position as a distance runner that as I get a little bit older and those efforts on the track become harder and harder, you get to test yourself at a new and exciting event.

Quick Questions with Matt

Pre-race breakfast: Oatmeal and coffee

Ideal post-race meal: Anything greasy, usually a burger

Least favorite form of cross-training: everything

Favorite form of cross-training: nothing

Do you consider yourself a good cook: Yes, signature dish is anything marinated and grilled

Last movie watched: The Dark Knight Rises

Three things you enjoy doing besides running: playing with son, working on home improvement projects, and having people over for a barbeque

“Obviously, road racing has blown up in the U.S. and gotten really big, and I am looking forward to going out against these guys who have been doing it for years.”

Follow Matt’s 20 km debut with live text updates and post-race highlights at on Monday, Sept. 3 starting at 8:40 a.m. ET.