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High Country’s van der Els advances to Men’s 5000m final at U.S. Olympic Trials with torrid final 800m in Heat 2

By David Rogers. EUGENE, Ore. — Most mere mortals are challenged to run 800 meters in under two minutes, much less doing so after a fast-paced 4,200 meters. But that is exactly what 10 runners did on June 27 to advance to the 5,000-meter semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Trials — including Blowing Rock-based ZAP Endurance’s Eric van der Els.

van der Els, now in his second year training with the High Country’s professional distance running team of elite athletes, covered the last 800 meters in 1:55.

“He ran unreal,” said ZAP Endurance head coach Pete Rea after the race.

The former University of Connecticut star at 1500 meters and 5000 meters on the track, as well as in cross country, now advances to the U.S. Olympic Trials’ final on Sunday, June 30, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EDT.

ZAP Endurance has one other athlete still in the mix for the U.S. Olympic Team. Amanda Vestri runs in the 10,000-meter final on Saturday, June 29, slated for 9:09 p.m. EDT.

The U.S. Olympic Trials are televised on NBC, USA and Peacock channels. Check local listings for exact broadcast schedules.

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