The Davis High product arrived in Brazil on Aug. 4, a day before walking in the Opening Ceremony inside The Maracanã. Still a relative newbie to the sport, the Olympic race Sunday will be just his fifth-ever competitive marathon. In qualifying for Rio in February, Ward snagged the last spot by finishing in two hours 12 minutes and 56 seconds.
Ward finished behind Galen Rupp, silver medalist in the men's 10,000-meter in London four years ago, and 41-year-old Meb Keflezighi, who finished second. The former BYU All-American in the men's 3,000- and 5,000-meter events said last week that he took advantage of his lengthy stay during these Olympics, taking the opportunity to see a flurry of events after tapering off from his pre-Rio training routine.
The fan experience ended a couple of days ago. Ward said he would be staying off his feet as much as possible prior to Sunday's race.
"I've got to figure out how to keep myself occupied where I want to be more off my feet and I'm just resting and chilling," he said. "I'm sure I'll be doing a lot of watching the other events, reading my books."
Reigning Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda returns to defend his gold Sunday, but Kenyans Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich, silver and bronze medalists respectively four years ago, will not run in Brazil.
Other medal contenders in Rio include Stanley Biwott, the 2015 New York City Marathon winner, and 20-year-old Eritrean Ghirmay Ghebrelassie, the 2015 World Champion.
Ward will be sporting bib No. 3103 in the race.