In April, Carlos Trujillo finished ninth among American men and 19th overall at the Boston Marathon.
It was only the third marathon the Boise resident had ever entered.
The 27-year-old Trujillo, a graduate of Middleton High, has gone from a collegiate walk-on to one of three men representing the United States in the marathon at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 17.
"It's a pretty amazing story, how far he's come," said Brad Hudson, Trujillo's marathon coach, who also trained 2012 Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein. "He's got the talent, and he has a lot of room to improve."
After he posted a time of 2 hours, 20 minutes, 56 seconds in last year's Olympic Trials, Trujillo has topped that time and finished in the top 20 in the other two marathons he's completed - 2:14:21 in October's Chicago Marathon, and 2:19:24 in Boston.
"I think I was fit enough to run 2:12 in Boston, which would've been around top five, but there's a lot of room for error in a race that long," Trujillo said. "I'm still pretty new, pretty much a rookie, so hopefully I can eventually compete consistently at that level."
It was hardly the first time Trujillo has seemingly come out of nowhere to make an impact on a big stage. As a senior at Oregon in 2008, in his first competitive 10,000-meter race, he won the Pac-10 championship. He took fourth in the 5,000 the next day.
Hudson, a former All-American at Oregon, took notice of Trujillo's abilities and identified him as someone who got better as a race got longer.
"If he was going to have a career after that, it was going to be at the longer distances - he's an efficient runner. He's got very good biomechanics," Hudson said.
The fact he ever even had the chance to run at Oregon, let alone continue as a professional, was a surprise.
Though he won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 titles at the 2003 3A state meet as a senior at Middleton, Trujillo wasn't too serious about running - he knew he excelled at it, but soccer was his favorite sport (he scored 28 goals one season).
As Trujillo and his twin brother, Esteban, considered schools, they thought Oregon would be a good fit academically, with plenty of outdoor opportunities, and not too far from Idaho. They also knew Oregon had one of the best track programs in the country, so Trujillo tried to join the Ducks as a walk-on.
"We tried to contact them, but no one ever called us back," Trujillo said.
During his first semester in Eugene while working out at the student rec center, someone suggested he join the school's running club. Trujillo tried to join the club soccer team and "had kind of thought about giving up running," but the brothers decided to try it out the second semester of their freshman year.
Trujillo was part of the running club his second year of school, in 2004-05, but he showed promise. The running club coach, the Ducks' former head women's coach, spoke to Oregon's coaches, at the time in need of distance runners, about some of the best in his group. Trujillo was then given the chance to walk on.
Even though he performed well at a position of need, Trujillo never felt completely comfortable.
"They started to bring in some pretty big recruits, so every summer I worked so hard just to make sure I wouldn't get squeezed out," Trujillo said.
With the upcoming world championships, then possibly another in 2015, Trujillo figures to have a good amount of experience under his belt as he eyes the 2016 Olympics. That also puts him right in the target age, around 30, when most marathoners peak.
"I think he can get into the 2:10 range," Hudson said. "If he can stay healthy, I think 2016 will be his time."
Though the marathon is his focus, Trujillo said he may try to break 28 minutes in the 10,000 meters next year on the track. When he returns from his week off from work at a Meridian bank in August, he hopes it's as a top-10 finisher at the world championships. The Olympics are the ultimate goal, and once Trujillo sets his mind on something, it often is fulfilled.
"I figure if I can't make it, I'm going to at least do everything I can do get close," he said. "I just have never been the type to give up."
Dave Southorn: 377-6420; Twitter: @IDS_Southorn