Back home in North Yarmouth, Ben True said he is continuing to take antibiotics for a suspected case of Lyme disease and is eager to return to competitive running, possibly as early as Friday in a 5-kilometer race in London.

During the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Oregon last month, True placed 12th in the 10,000 meters and sixth in the 5,000. He’ll be in London for the Olympics next month, but only as a spectator to cheer on his girlfriend, U.S. triathlete Sarah Groff.

“I’ll definitely be over there for that,” True said. “Most of the races I want to do are after the Olympics.”

Still, True said he would like to get in a few races this month in Europe, possibly in Belgium at 3,000 meters.

“We don’t know how long I can hold my fitness after taking so much time off for the illness,” he said. “Hopefully, if I start feeling better and stronger I’ll be able to do more racing after the Olympic break.”

True’s training base is Hanover, N.H., where he earned a degree at Dartmouth College. He’s in the process of moving from Wilder, Vt., just across the Connecticut River, to Enfield, N.H., which is east of Hanover.

His coach, Tim Broe, resides in Ann Arbor, Mich. Reached Monday afternoon, Broe said he knew True was ill leading into the trials, but “he really didn’t spring it on me until last week that it was Lyme disease,” Broe said.

“It’s phenomenal that he actually finished,” Broe said. “That speaks a lot to how tough Ben is, or how stubborn, whichever you wish. That shows how badly he wants to call himself an Olympian one day.”

True opened June with a last-minute invitation to run in the 5,000 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., among a star-studded international field. He raced after a frenzied travel day, if only for the experience, and finished 13th of 19 runners.

“It’s a good experience to mix it up with those athletes,” True said. “Hopefully, later on down the line, I’ll be able to toe the line with more experience and be ready to compete with them.”

Broe said he thinks True already had been bitten by a tick carrying Lyme disease before the Prefontaine race, and the effort expended in Oregon cleared a pathway to attack his immune system.

A week of recovery followed a week of illness, then came the trials.

“To get Lyme disease three weeks before the biggest race of your life, that you’ve been training three years for?” Broe said. “That’s disappointing. But he’s resilient. He’ll get back on the horse.”

Broe said his immediate concern for True is rest and recovery, noting his road racing season lasted deep into the fall of 2011 and his indoor season was interrupted by a calf injury.

The next big race Broe envisions for True is the U.S. 10-mile championship in early October if Minneapolis. True also mentioned a desire to run a half marathon.

“We haven’t really talked about it,” Broe said, “but that may be a possibility.”

As for True, he’s still disappointed that he couldn’t compete at his best during the trials. A blood test for Lyme came back negative, but the disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose, and True did have the characteristic bulls-eye rash.

“It’s always better to be safe than sorry,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll come out the other end healthy.”

 

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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