Jerry Faulkner is an ambitious man.

Jerry Faulkner is an ambitious man. A runner who found his path late, but has Olympic aspirations.

The 28-year-old Edmond native is entering his 10th year of competitive running. But almost a decade ago, there was just as good a chance of seeing Faulkner swinging a golf club than tearing up asphalt. That’s what makes his assent to Oklahoma’s marathon apex so special, and what makes him one of the runners to watch at the March 28 Arbuckles to Ardmore Race For Mercy.

“When I first started running in college, I couldn’t run five miles without stopping,” Faulkner said. “But every time I ran, I’d always look back to see how far I’d run. Anything in life is about setting goals.”

Faulkner originally entered St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee to play golf, but walked on to the cross country team as a freshman in 2000 because of a friend. He said it took him about a year or two to get into shape, but from there his ability was clear.

He wrapped up his collegiate career in 2004 as a three-time All-Region and Sooner Athletic Conference performer in track and cross country. In the first marathon he ever raced, the 2005 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, Faulkner placed second and won it the following year. In 2008, he was named the Oklahoma Runner of the Year by Oklahoma USA Track and Field and set a course record at the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa (2 hours, 27 minutes, 20 seconds).

At the A2A, Faulkner’s keeping it relatively light. He’ll shoot for a time of 1 hour, 9 minutes flat in the 13.1-mile half marathon at a 5-minute, 20-second per mile pace, what he calls a “pacing run” for the prestigious Chicago Marathon in October. What he’s really aiming for is a few years down the road.

His ultimate goal is to qualify for the Olympic trials, set for January 2012 in Houston. To do so, Faulkner has to run the marathon in 2:18.00. His personal best in the marathon is a 2:25.10 in the Quad Cities Marathon in Moline, Ill., where he placed fifth overall in 2009. He was also 90th out of more than 41,000 runners at the New York Marathon in November.

“To be a good runner you have to be somebody who’s very disciplined in training and setting goals,” he said of qualifying for the Olympic trials. “I feel like I have a very good chance.”

Faulkner typically runs two marathons a year, but can log 100-130 miles a week in training when he’s not working as store manager at OK Runner in Edmond or as an assistant women’s track and cross country coach at Central Oklahoma. This summer, he’ll head to Albuquerque, N.M., to train in higher elevation in preparation for Chicago later this year.

In five years, Faulkner has become one of the best runners in not just Oklahoma, but the nation.
“It’s a big accomplishment, but it makes me more humble about training and keeps me training hard,” Faulkner said. “There’s people out there doing the same thing I’m doing.”

For Faulkner, a win at A2A will be another step to the Olympics.

Erik K. Horne