SPOKANE, Wash. – A Spokane native will compete in the Olympic trial marathon Saturday.
Rachel Jaten ran in college years ago, but got burnt out. She took more than a decade off from running, but recently decided to make a comeback.
Jaten has been running 95 miles a week in preparation for the Olympic trials on February 13 in downtown Los Angeles. It will be televised live on NBC beginning at 10:00 a.m. This is the first time it will be broadcast live. It will also be live streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra online.
The top three finishers in the men's and women's races will earn the right to compete for the U.S. in Rio de Janeiro. She said the marathon will be tough, but the competition will be even tougher.
With less than a week until the trials, the Spokane Olympic hopeful said there is nothing that can stop her now.
Jaten is now a two-time Olympic marathon trials qualifier.
“I grew up running. I think I loved it because I felt I was pretty good at it,” said Jaten.
Jaten kept up with her dad when she was 5-years-old. By the time she was in middle school, she was able to out-run most of her peers.
“it was pretty easy for her to catch your eye, because she was beating all the boys. She was a pretty extraordinary little runner,” said Steve Llewellyn.
Llewellyn was Jaten’s high school cross-country coach. He said he could tell she was special from the day he met her.
“It was fun coaching Rachel. She had kind of the heart of a lion. And she trained really hard back in those days,” said Llewellyn.
In high school, Jaten was on an elite team of competitors. They won state titles and gained the attention of college recruiters.
Jaten went on from University High to Montana State, where she continued to win.
During her senior year, Jaten hit a hurdle.
Jaten decided to quit the sport she loved.
“I was kind of done. I wanted a break from it. I left it and I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore either,” said Jaten.
She did not know it at the time, but Jaten’s little break from running would turn into ten years.
“It’s such a lifestyle and that was no longer my lifestyle,” said Jaten.
From endurance athlete to endurance delivery truck driver. Jaten got a full time job with UPS delivering packages. A daily workout in its own.
The runner-at-heart could not shake the feeling she was missing out on something big.
“I never felt that I gave running everything I had. I knew if I didn’t try to do that, I felt like I’d wake up one day and really regret never trying,” said Jaten.
So Jaten put her running shoes back on.
For an out-of-shape long distance runner, Jaten’s quest for Olympic possibilities came at a sprinters speed.
In 2011, Jaten ran the San Diego Marathon.
“That was the first time I thought ‘Wow, I can actually do this,’” said Jaten.
Then came Chicago, Sacramento and first place at the Portland Marathon.
Jaten qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2012 and this year she is headed to the trials again.
“Some of the bigger races that have really large crowds, you just get goosebumps going through,” said Jaten.
On Saturday, Jaten will run against almost 200 women in Los Angeles. These women are some of the best marathoners in the country.
To make the Olympic team, Jaten will have to place in the top three.
Jaten knows the odds of actually going to the Olympics are slim, but she’s not concerned with winning. She wants to run her fastest race ever for the people who have supported her most.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of support. And a very supportive spouse,” Jaten said. “You definitely sacrifice a lot. More than anything, a social life.”
Jaten’s friends and family said they will continue cheering their Olympic hopeful on all the way to next Saturday’s finish line.
“She’s been a fantastic inspiration to all of the other young women who run around here. They say, ‘Look at Rachel,’” said Llewellyn.
“I’ve had a lot of people tell me on a one-on-one that they think it’s very inspiring that I’m just kind of going for it,” said Jaten.
The clock is on and this come-back runner said she is ready.