The date had been circled on the calendar of Galen Rupp fans for a long time: Sunday, July 17, 2022, the day of the men’s marathon at the World Athletic Championships, held in Eugene.

All the pieces were to have fallen in place for Rupp to win his first world championship. Rupp, an Oregon native, a Central Catholic High School graduate and the top active American men’s marathon runner, was expected to have a banner day. Unfortunately, nagging injuries and a recent bout of omicron variant had the final say.

“I missed too much time out there training. I did the best I could, but I wasn’t able to get all the work in. But that’s just the way it goes sometimes,” said Rupp following the race. “I wanted to give it a go, for sure. It was a rough one out there.”

Rupp held with the leader pack for the majority of the race but faded in the final third. The 2016 Olympic marathon bronze medalist persevered to finish nineteenth in a time of 2:09:36. Rupp, who owns the top marathon time among active U.S. runners with a personal best of 2:06:07, was the top American finisher.

“This was obviously a tough one, but I’m proud of myself to get across the finish line,” said Rupp, who was a 14-time All-American when he competed in Eugene for the University of Oregon more than a decade ago.

“The best fans are here. It meant so much to me, hearing everybody out there. This is my favorite place to run, hands down. It was very special.”

Rupp had a relatively injury-free career until 2018, when he underwent surgery on his Achilles tendon. Since then, he has been up and down, battling through nagging compensation injuries as he tries to rebuild his mechanics. In the Tokyo Olympics last summer, Rupp finished eighth in the marathon. He bounced back months later to place second in the Chicago marathon, but then dropped out halfway through the New York City half marathon last spring.

“Unfortunately, today just wasn’t my day,” said Rupp.

“It’s really been a rough last year and a half. It’s unfortunate, but everybody hits a bumpy patch. From a mechanical standpoint, my form has really come a long way. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of time. I lost a lot, as far as my mechanics.”

Rupp said he plans to compete for a spot on the U.S. team in the marathon for the Paris Olympics in 2024.

“I’m really encouraged going forward.”