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Ryan Hall: "The Future" (And Present?)
By: LetsRun.com
April 9, 2008

Video Highlights of Ryan's Press
Conference Including Baldini's Quote

An American* male saying he's trying to win the Flora London Marathon may sound crazy. An American male indicating he'll be going with the early pace (informally talked about 1:02:30 halfway) may sound crazy. An American male running 1:02:45 over the rolling hills of Central Park for the 2nd half of a marathon to win the Olympic Trials in 2:09:02 may sound crazy.

Get used to it.

Ryan Hall was born (he grew up at 7,000 feet in Big Bear) or perhaps made (his first run no joke was a 15 miler) to run the marathon.

Ryan Hall: "The Future"

    :"He (Ryan Hall) is an athlete who can win a lot of things, win a lot of medals.... He is able to read the race and react. HE'S THE FUTURE." (our emphasis added)
    -Olympic Marathon Champ Stefano Baldini talking about Ryan Hall on Wednesday's media day

If you had any lingering doubts about Ryan's marathon abilities, then Baldini's quote probably put them to rest.

Baldini and the rest of the men's headliners addressed the media on Wednesday which served as the men's media day. As usual the London Marathon field is absolutely stacked. (Martin Lel (the defending champ, and the NY Champ); Luke Kibet (the World Champ), Stefano Baldini (the Olympic Champ), Sammy Wanjiru (the top young marathoner in the World (2:06:39 in his debut for the win in Fukuoka) and the world half marathon record holder), Abderrahim Goumri (2nd in sprint finishes to Lel in both London and NY last year); Felix Limo (Berlin (2004), Chicago (2005) and London (2006) champ) and Hendrick Ramaala (NY champ in 2004, 5th in London, 3rd in NY last year), all addressed the media on Wednesday in addition to Ryan Hall. Emmanual Mutai, the world's 2nd fastest marathoner in 2007 (2:06:29 in Amsterdam) wasn't even good enough to make it to media day and neither was Deriba Merga, who ran 2:06:50 in his last race. We have a separate article on media day and the rest of the men's field here)

An inordinate amount of attention was paid by the foreign press (Liz Robbins of the NY Times was the only American writer we saw at the press conference) to one person, America's Ryan Hall (the photographers had Ryan, and Ryan only, jog all alone along the river for a photo shoot while all the other studs jogged in groups, like Ryan first did here in the photo on the right)

Baldini, Hall, Goumri, Ramaala

Perfectly Suited and Sculpted for the Marathon
All indications are that Ryan is coming into London really, really fit. There were no attempts by anyone in his camp to lower expectations or hint at any problems heading into Sunday's race. We talked to Ryan's agent Ray Flynn last Friday and he said things were going really well. And most importantly, Ryan reiterated that on Wednesday.

Ryan's only race since his dominating win in the Olympic Trials was a 5th place finish at the USATF XC Championships in San Diego. Do not let that performance fool you. Yesterday, Ryan said his training coming into London went great - he just finds it hard to race well while doing marathon training.

He noted, "I like to escape up in the mountains and just train. That's what I did before the (Olympic Marathon) Trials and it worked out really well form me. I get a lot of confidence from my training. I find it is really hard to compete well at a high level when doing marathon training, so I find it very effective to just disappear for a while and come down fit."

Londo Marathon 2008
Ryan Hall and Crew and Tower Bridge

Ryan indicated his bread and butter for the marathon is the tempo runs. He was excited about his training saying, "I have pushed myself really hard. I've done some stuff I'm excited about, and I'd like to see it displayed on Sunday." When pressed by moderator Tim Hutchings for specifics he added, "I've just done it (the tempos) considerably faster."

A new level in training does not always correspond to a new level in racing, but Ryan Hall in all seriousness appears to be born (and made) to run the marathon. It would be hard for someone at Disney to write a better opening story for a marathoner. Hall is someone who grew up at 7,000 feet of altitude in Big Bear, California. His first run ever was a 15 miler around Big Bear Lake. He was doing ten mile tempo runs in high school (Check out our interview with him in 2000). We can remember hearing from Jim Ryun's son that Ryan did some of these tempos in 50 minutes while in high school - we no longer find that impossible to believe.

Bye Bye Mile
Ryan's natural speed resulted in him being obsessed with the mile while in high school (he ran 3:42 for 1,500m the same year Webb ran 3:53 for the mile) and throughout his first years of college at Stanford. But the mile is now ancient history for Ryan. He said, "I find that I love the training for it (the marathon). I love doing the long runs. I've always been doing high mileage ever since I was little. My very first run was 15 miles around the lake. You think I'd know at that point I was made to run the marathon, but it took me eight years to figure it out. I was stuck on the mile for a long time ... Every time I moved up in distance it just felt right. It felt better and better ... The longer I get the stronger I get ... I really enjoy the training, the racing, I love competing against the guys ... I'm glad I found that out at a young age."

Londo Marathon 2008
Ryan Hall

Ryan even indicated that coach Terrence Mahon has helped try and prepare him for pace surges and being able to adapt to the tactics that are necessary to win the World's most competitive marathon.

Winning clearly is on Ryan's mind. "I've never stepped on the start of race and thought I had no shot of winning the race," he said. Ryan enjoys competing against the best and said, "You learn more than about your competitors, you learn about yourself and how you can push yourself and when you can push yourself and (you learn) your own limits. That's what I'm trying to see how fast can I go, how hard can I go, how do I stack up against these guys?"

Don't forget that Ryan's marathon career is only 2 races old and that he hung with the leaders in London in his first marathon ever (he was behind the main pack at points in the race, but bridged the gap as the pace was a bit slow for London, and then he hung with the leaders until the final miles, even taking the lead).

His stellar run in New York showed he has continued to improve as a marathoner. Those who are not running aficionados may not understand how impressive his run was on a difficult course.

Ryan Hall has set the bar tremendously high with his first two marathons. But one thing is clear: More improvement in London this weekend could leave Ryan at the top of the marathon hierarchy. "Last year I proved I can do it through 23 miles (37 kilometers). This year, my expectations have grown from that."

Ryan Hall and the Big Stage

Other News on Ryan: Ryan Shay's Death
The British press was really interested in knowing more about Ryan's connection with Ryan Shay and how Shay's tragic death affected him. Hall was up-front and honest in his answers. He did not let the reporters exaggerate how close he was to Shay, ""It's not like Ryan was my best friend," but talked about how his wife Sara was really close to Alicia Shay (Ryan Shay's wife) and in her wedding party and how they went and lived with her in Flagstaff this December after Ryan Shay's death.

Ryan Hall said that Shay's death made him want to run even more. A British reporter asked if the death made him ponder the triviality of running, but Ryan said it had the opposite effect. "It really makes you want to make the most of every opportunity ... There is more to life than just running, but at the same time (I really enjoy it and am gifted at it)."

No Bears in Big Bear
The British press was let down to know there aren't actually any bears anymore in Big Bear. Perhaps they'll be able to play Ryan up as some sort of bionic man, as he talked about the snow that hammered Mammoth Lakes this winter. He talked about shoveling his car numerous times, and even running on packed snow with what sounded like ice clamps on his shoes (quick, now - everyone go out and buy ice clamps).

Big Bear also has started a "Move a Million Miles for Ryan" campaign. Residents are supposed to track all they run and bike and hopefully get to a million miles before Ryan goes to Beijing. Ryan said there are banners all over town wishing him luck in the Olympics.

*AP Article on Ryan
*IAAF Article On Ryan
*LetsRun.com Star Studded 2008 Flora London Marathon Men's Field* Addresses the Media
Photo Gallery from Wednesday

*We're defining American marathoner here as someone who did not hold the world record when he became an American citizen (Khalid Khannouchi)

Video Highlights of Ryan's Press
Conference Including Baldini's Quote

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