Kempainen says he’s ready to run

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Bob Kempainen has been on a physical roller coaster since mid-April. On Tuesday he declared himself ready for the final descent — into the heat and humidity of the Olympic marathon.
Dr. Kempainen, a Medical School graduate of the University, has been his most important patient recently, trying to heal tendinitis in both legs, strained quadriceps and a tender right hamstring.
But in a conference call from Palo Alto, Calif., he declared himself fit for the punishing 26-mile, 385-yard race through the streets of Atlanta on Aug. 4. He had said in April that he would skip the Olympics if he couldn’t be competitive.
“The injuries still need attention,” Kempainen said, “and I’ve been getting a lot of ultrasound and therapy treatments. But I feel well enough that I can run with them.”
Kempainen, who finished 17th at the Barcelona Games, won the U.S. Olympic marathon trials Feb. 17 despite throwing up several times during the race.
His injury problems began then, in an inflamed band of tendon that connects the hips to the knees.
“I could feel the bands tightening up every step,” said Kempainen, 30. “The next day, I was sore and tight, and it threw off my stride. Once your mechanics are shot, everything else goes down the drain.”
And by April, his training routine was shot as well. He has only been able to train consistently in the past three weeks and still isn’t up to his normal mileage. Instead of his longest run during a week being 25 miles, he’s limited it to 17-18 miles.
Still, Kempainen is reasonably confident of a top-10 finish in what could be his “last serious marathon.”
“The next two years I won’t be around a lot in terms of running,” said Kempainen, who begins a three-year residency in internal medicine at a Minneapolis hospital Sept. 4. “With my residency, it won’t be feasible. But if I miss (running competitively), I will keep my options open.”