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We speak with 5-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman about his amazing journey, from his improbable start in running to his chances for 2024.


In this episode, Jon and I speak with FIVE TIME Olympian Abdi Abdirahman about his amazing journey.

Born in Hargeisa, Somalia, Abdi’s family fled the growing conflict in the 1980s and moved to Tucson, Arizona when he was still young. But it wasn’t until he entered Pima Community College that Abdi started running, an amazing story he shares with us. When his lifelong coach Dave Murray made a big bet on him and gave him a full-ride scholarship, it set in motion one of the greatest distance running careers in US history. How long will he keep going? Not even he knows.

Abdi is known as one of the most genuine, fun to be around guys in the sport. His personality really shines through in this interview.


We talk with Abdi about his amazing career, and how he’s remained one of the best runners in the US for over 20 years:

– His family’s journey from Somalia to Tucson, Arizona and why they ended up there
– His father’s education and career as an engineer and his mom’s background working for the President of Somalia
– The diverse experiences and career paths he and his siblings have taken, and why his younger brother gave up running despite having some obvious ability
– Why Abdi loves running and believes in the saying, “Find something you love to do in life and you’ll never work a day in your life”
– The amazing story of how Abdi got discovered at Pima Community College, the all-comers track meet that inspired him to try running, and his amazing first practice
– The full ride scholarship University of Arizona coach Dave Murray gave him despite his lack of times to justify it
– His favorite memory from his two years at U of A, winning the 5k and 10k at the PAC-10 championships over Meb and the Hauser brothers

His Philosophy
– How Abdi has been able to sustain his love of running over such a long and successful career, and his emphasis on always remaining a gracious winner or loser
– Abdi’s ability to always maintain perspective on his running, and how he always gave himself time to fix the problems and didn’t let one race–or one year–define him or his enjoyment
– The people who support you on your path to success that nobody pays attention to
– How far a little “good job” can go in running
– Why he believes we all have a right to have hope

His Pro Career
– How he qualified for the World Championships in 1999 but couldn’t go because of a passport issue
– His experience at the Sydney Olympics and why he felt it was one of the best Olympics ever
– How he got caught up in the battle between Haile Gebrselassie and Paul Tergat and could have finished even higher in Sydney
– How he used his email address as a constant reminder of his goal to make the Athens Olympics in 2004
– His first indication that the coronavirus might disrupt the elite racing schedule and the Olympics
– His book project and his appreciation for the recreational runners who make up the backbone of the sport
– And we discuss why so many great runners seem to come from the same villages, including Abdi, Mo Farah, Mo Ahmed, Hassan Mead, and Bashir Abdi and others all coming from Hargeisa in Somalia.

If you liked this episode, check out our interviews with Bob Larsen and Merhawi Keflezighi (Meb’s brother).

And, you can now get these show notes sent directly to your email. Sign up here!

Recorded July 17, 2020.


Sydney 10000m (Haile vs Tergat) – YouTube

2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon – YouTube


Abdi Abdirahman – @abdiruns


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