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Olympic hopeful keeps the pace

Dan Browne could win marathon trial, says coach Alberto Salazar

Having run 18 miles per day for months, Dan Browne feels he can finish in the top three in the marathon at the U.S. Olympic Trials and qualify for the Athens Games.

After Saturday's trials in Birmingham, Ala., Browne will take a couple of weeks off from training.

'Anyone who's run a marathon has a healthy perspective on the race,' the Beaverton resident says. 'It's a long, grueling race whether you run it in two hours or four hours or five hours. You have to be ready for it in mind, body and soul.

'I feel ready for the trials. But I'm ready for a little downtime, too.'

Browne, 28, won his first marathon in St. Paul, Minn., in September 2002 in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 35 seconds, and he took three weeks off after finishing 24th in 2:19:37 in the Chicago Marathon in October.

'My body was giving me signs it was tired,' he says. 'I'd been going for 10 months straight with no breaks of more than a day. Looking back, that's something I learned from.'

After resting his body, he finished second in a 10K in Barcelona, Spain, in December and ran 1:03:09 in a half-marathon in Houston Jan. 18. The Houston result, where he finished second, has him pegged as the leading American in the marathon.

'That race was a good indicator of my fitness,' he says. 'It definitely shows me that my engine is where it needs to be.'

Alberto Salazar, his coach, says having run just two marathons isn't a concern.

'A lot of the top guys haven't run too many marathons,' Salazar says. 'Running is running.'

Salazar, a former marathon world-record holder, sees Browne as a candidate to win Saturday's race.

'Lately, Dan has just been perfect with his workouts. He's running under a lot of control,' Salazar says.

Saturday's race will be Browne's third attempt to qualify for the Olympics. He tried to qualify in the 5,000 in 1996, while attending West Point, and again in 2000. In 2002 he joined the Nike Oregon Project along with five other runners who are attempting to improve U.S. results in distance races.

Browne, who is from West Linn, will head to Birmingham along with Oregon Project teammates Mike Donnelly and Phil Hanneck.

Other American contenders for the Olympic team include Alan Culpepper of Louisville, Colo., and Meb Keflezighi of Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Salazar says Donnelly has an outside chance at qualifying for the Olympic team, as well. Donnelly ran two times under 29 minutes in the 10K last year, and his workouts have been strong.

'Mike hasn't shown up on anyone's radar yet,' Salazar says. 'But that's a mistake.'