Alberto Salazar takes on a new high school prodigy

Alberto Salazar takes on a new high school prodigy

Mary Cain from New York

A decade or so ago, a former NYC marathon champ turned Nike spokesperson and coach, took a high schooler named Galen Rupp under his wing. Fast forward to 2012, where this high schooler is now a decorated professional runner with an Olympic Silver Medal in the 10K under his belt.

It wasn’t an accident that Salazar decided to gamble on coaching a high schooler, and building him up for years. With that being said, and Rupp now being in the peak of his career, Salazar is taking on a new student of distance running. Her name is Mary Cain, and is a 16-year-old junior for New York.

Cain and Salazar met at the Olympic trials this year. Cain wanted a picture with Salazr, and this she was granted. Before meeting Salazar, though, Cain won the Penn Relays high school mile in a time of 4:39:28, which was a national and meet record. 

She then went on from there to run a 2:03:34 800 m PR, as well as win the U.S. National Junior 1500 m title in a time of 4:14:74. These times, mixed with Cain’s work ethic, has given her the prestigious title of being the most important U.S. female distance runner since Mary Decker. Salazar didn't initially realize who she was, but after the trials finished, did his research, and decided to contact the high schooler and her family.

What this means for Mary is forfeiting her spot on her high school cross country and track team, and running as an independent athlete for Salazar. She will no longer compete in high school races, and will have to compete has an amateur on the university and professional circuit. Since Cain hopes to attend university and compete in the NCAA, she is not allowed to accept prize money, sponsorship, or deferred race fees or travel. Essentially, she is competing as a professional, without the professional amenities.

What inspired Cain to switch from high school competition to this sort of racing regime was an inability to compete in the 5th Avenue Mile in New York, due to it conflicting with a high school cross country race. This was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back for Cain.

The Cain/Salazar experiment will see its first race on November 3rd in the Dash to the Line 5k, which is a precursor to the New York Marathon. Cain will be up against a stacked professional field, boasting some of the top U.S. female distance runners.  For more information on Salazar and Cain, check out the featured article on the Runner’s World Website.