Leading Edge: Steve Meinelt
By Douglas Eldridge
In 1964, Mick Jagger sang: “Time is on my side. Yes it is. Time, Time, Time is on my side.” That was 19 years before Steve Meinelt was born, yet those timeless lyrics ring true for one of the youngest men to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials this November. For Meinelt (who turned 24 in May) time is definitely on his side.Originally from Topsfield, MA, Meinelt attended the University of New Hampshire for the first three years of college, where he anchored the track and cross country programs. With eligibility remaining, he made the decision to transfer to Georgetown University. He ran both cross country and track for the Hoyas before receiving his degree from the storied D.C. institution, in May 2006.
Upon graduation, Meinelt surprised a lot of people by opting to stay in the nation’s capitol, as it would serve as a proving ground for what would be the biggest athletic experiment of his young career: stepping off of the track and onto the road for the marathon. For Meinelt, however, the decision to stay in the nation’s capital after graduation was an easy one. “The training is actually really great in the D.C. area. There are numerous, well-kept trails which are readily accessible from almost anywhere. And even though I do most of my training solo, there are several groups to train with as well as some of my former teammates at Georgetown.”
In 2006, Meinelt excelled soon after transitioning to the road race circuit, posting several wins and numerous podium performances. This continued into 2007 when he finished 11th overall at the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in April, top American in a field that stacked with foreign distance racing talent.
Yet despite success at the shorter distances, both Meinelt and his coach, Robert Hoppler, agree that he has finally found his event in the marathon. “I’ve always been intrigued by the marathon and I knew that some day I would like to move up to that distance. I feel like my body and training style are geared more toward the longer distances—both in training and in racing. But the best thing is that I’m nowhere near my peak. That could be several years away.”
If that bears true, Meinelt, and US distance running in general, are in good hands. In his debut effort at the distance, he ran 2:18:15 at the Chevron Houston Marathon. “I was just concerned about hitting the qualifying time. I know that in my next marathon, I’m capable of running a much faster time.”
Others concur with Meinelt’s potential and this spring the Road Runners Club of America selected him as a recipient of the prestigious 2007 Roads Scholar Award. In typical fashion, Meinelt smiled, laughed, and tried to defer credit. “I work really hard. I’m honored by the award and I feel I’ve got a lot to prove. In the end I just need to be patient in my preparation. All I’ve got is time.”