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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ryan Hall Half-Marathon

This morning, Ryan Hall broke a 20-year-old American Record in the half-marathon with a stunning 59:43. It's set the message boards (the old men and the young punks) abuzz. He won by over 2 1/2 minutes and beat the living hell out of Oly silver medalist Meb Keflezighi.

So what exactly does 59:43 mean? Putting aside the inexactness of road courses (note that last year's USATF 10-mile championship was certified but later found to be notably short), here are Hall's splits.
10k: 28:21 (4:34 pace)
9 miles: 40:56 (4:32 pace) / 12:35 for 2.79 miles (4:31 pace)
Finish: 59:43 (4:33 pace) / 18:47 for 4.11 miles (4:34 pace)
Remarkably well-paced.

Using the ARRS' records, how does this compare? It's 36 seconds off the World Record (59:06 by Paul Kosgei last April). It's tied for 11th on the all-time world list. The Portugese tables rate it equal to a 2:05:18 marathon and a 26:56.1 10k (which are probably overstatements). For a guy looking to step up to the marathon, it's very promising.

It is pretty darn good, but it's not like an Olympic medal or World Championship or World Record or anything, all of which have been done by US runners of late. So why are the guys over at Let's Run jumping around like a bunch of Kansas City faggots? Well, I'm betting few of them can remember the last time an American-born WASPy type was competitive with the best in the world, and the flavor of that place is a bit Archie Bunker-ish.

Video is here.


Homeslice said...

I think one of the reasons there's so much buzz is because it's such a big shock. Not so much that he broke the AR, but because he broke it by such a huge margin, by himself - no competition, on American soil. And yes, there is a certain feel of this is "our guy" - white, american born - and look what he did, but I don't think there's anything wrong with rooting for the guy who reminds you of yourself.

The Track & Field Superfan said...

Sure, that's at least one reason why I'm such a Lydiard fan--same exact physical build. But the xenophobia and racism are openly admitted by more than a few in the Let's Run crowd.

Personally, I've never thought there was any reason a "typical" American runner (white suburbanite) couldn't be among the best in the world, so this isn't as shocking to me as to others. For example, I always thought Kennedy sold himself short, and that's just one among many. This feeling of frustration--especially among a fairly priveleged group--is at least one source of that racism and xenophobia...I mean, no one is resentful of a group that holds no power over them.

It is still a fairly surprising performance. But let's not forget this guy was basically a 4:00 miler in HS, who would easily have been hailed as the next Pre if he hadn't been in the same graduating class as Ritz and Webb. He flew under the radar and stayed there, not doing really much of anything until 2005. In retrospect, it looks like he was always capable of great things and collegiate running got in the way of that for a few years.