Kevin Castille is in the best shape of his life. He’s in such good shape that he set a half-marathon course record, and he likely would have won the full marathon Sunday at the Louisiana Marathon.
But Castille has his eyes on a bigger prize.
In winning the Louisiana Marathon’s half marathon with a time of 1 hour, 7 minutes, 53 seconds, Castille completed his last tuneup as he prepares for the U.S. Olympic marathon trials. They will be held Feb. 13 in Los Angeles.
“I wasn’t fresh because I ran 22 (miles) on Thursday, but I felt fine considering,” said Castille, whose plan was to run at a marathon pace despite the week’s hard work. “I’m supposed to be able to do that. The goal is to go into a marathon fresh, which makes it a little easier. By no means was it easy today.”
At 43, Castille has a chance to earn a spot in the Rio Olympics in August. Now a track coach at St. Thomas More High School, Castille had to overcome a late ruling this year by USA Track & Field that forced him to qualify a second time for the Olympic trials.
Castille was originally informed he had qualified May 31 when he ran a 1:04:45 half marathon in the USA Masters Championships at San Diego. In December, he learned that the San Diego course had an elevation drop of more than 3.25 meters per kilometer, so it could not be used to qualify.
Undaunted, Castille entered the Jacksonville Bank half marathon Jan. 3, where he qualified again with a time of 1:04:33.
“Had I found out in May (about the course problem), it would have given me six or seven months to prepare, but sometimes that works better,” Castille said. “You don’t have time to think about it or let it marinate. It wasn’t that big of a deal.”
It wasn’t a big deal primarily because Castille had kept himself in top shape.
“I ran a lot faster in Jacksonville. I was fitter, and I knew I was fitter going in. It was just a matter of being smart and putting it together. If I went in second-guessing myself, I could have got in trouble.”
Now, with the trials less than a month away, Castille’s goal is to stay consistent and stay healthy. He wants to run under 2:15, a time he feels is within reach.
“(Under 2:15) would be really awesome for me,” he said. “My best is only 2:20, but I’m way better than 2:20 right now. I haven’t had a lot of marathon experience, and I’m getting a little bit older. At this level, you have to be able to do it all.”
Whatever the final results, they are likely to be well-received by the St. Thomas More community, which has rallied around Castille’s Olympic efforts.
“The community has done a great job getting behind me, and it feels good,” he said. “I feel like they’re saying, ‘You’ve done a good job with our kids, and this is our way of supporting you.’ It’s been phenomenal. Without their support, it would be hard to do this.”
Kara Marlatt of Baton Rouge was the top women’s finisher in the half marathon at 1:26:09.