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Olympic Trials Champion Ryan Hall, Dan Browne To Compete at San Diego 
 Press Release
February 2, 2008

SAN DIEGO, California, Feb. 7, 2008 – Bob Larsen won’t be on the starting line, but the veteran coach will have a major impact on the USA Cross Country Championships in San Diego as the entries of two of his top Team Running USA athletes – reigning American Olympic Marathon Trials champion Ryan Hall and 2004 Marathon Trials bronze medalist Dan Browne – have been announced by race officials. 

The USA Cross Country Championships are scheduled February 16 over a looped course at Mission Bay Park. A series of seven races that begins with the Road Runner Sports Community 4K at 9 a.m., the championships culminate with the Open Women’s 8 kilometer race at 1:15 p.m. and the Open Men’s 12 kilometer race at 2:00 p.m.  

Because this is an Olympic year and the two Open races serve as the U.S. qualifiers for March’s World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland, a strong field is gathering to run at Mission Bay. And, it doesn’t get any stronger in American distance running these days than Hall. 

“He’s the real deal,” said Larsen, a Hall of Fame distance running coach whose roots go back to the Jamul Toads in the mid-1970s, Grossmont College and UCLA, where his teams won nine Pac-10 titles over 13 years. 

“This will be a real treat to watch Ryan and the other world class athletes run over a 2-kilometer course that makes several loops,” said Larsen. “If we get nice weather with this venue, well you don’t get that many opportunities for San Diego to be right there seeing Olympians competing. I’m hoping that some young kids come down to watch and are inspired to take up running because of what they’ll see. You never know, you hear it happen in other sports, and these athletes are the type that can inspire the next generation.” 

Hall is certainly of that caliber. He is at the forefront of a continued resurgence in world-class marathoning by Americans, sparked in large part by the guidance of Larsen and Joe Vigil at Team Running USA, as well as the personal coaching of Terrence Mahon. Training in the high altitude of Mammoth Lakes, as well as at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Team Running USA athletes broke a 28-year drought by winning two Olympic marathon medals for America at the 2004 Athens Games – San Diego’s Meb Keflezighi taking the men’s silver and Deena Kastor capturing the women’s bronze. 

Hall seems poised to continue that trend at the Beijing Olympics this summer. 

On November 3rd, the 23-year-old from Big Bear, California, broke loose on what was thought to be a slow and difficult course in New York’s Central Park to dominate the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials—Men’s Marathon. Running effortlessly late in the race, Hall shattered the U.S. Olympic Trials record with his winning time of 2:09:02. 

A year earlier, Hall made his debut on the world marathon stage, finishing 7th in the Flora London Marathon. His time of 2:08:24 was the fastest marathon debut by any American, and the fastest marathon ever run by an American-born citizen. 

“Ryan is just a super talented guy,” said Larsen. “You could see very early on that he was special. He was a four-minute miler in high school and could have run a world-class marathon while he was at Stanford. His coach was sending me his workouts while he was in high school, and I was coaching world-class athletes who would have been hard pressed to do them. 

“He’s like America’s Kenyan runner,” added Larsen. “Encouraged by his father, he ran at an early age at altitude in Big Bear, just like the Kenyans do. And, he’s obviously very gifted with genetics, just as the Kenyans are. The sky is the limit for Ryan. He’s really got it. He can run with anyone in the world.” 

On February 16, San Diegans will get a chance to see for themselves when Hall, Browne and others line up for the USA Cross Country Championships at Mission Bay. 

Larsen, who coached his San Diego-based Jamul Toads to a team title in the 1976 USA Cross Country Championships, will be on hand to watch the best of America’s current distance runners and re-visit with his athletes from the ‘70s. 

“I’m sure I’ll see some of the Jamul Toads down there,” said Larsen, rattling off names like Dale Fleet, Kirk Pfeffer, Thom Hunt, and Dave Harper. “I do think of them from time to time, particularly when I run into them. That was a special time because the team title back then was even more important than the individual title. It probably overshadowed even the NCAA championship back then. I still think about it.” 

More information about the USA Cross Country Championships in San Diego is available online at www.usatf.org/events/2008/USAXCChampionships, or by contacting co-meet directors Paul Greer ([email protected]) or Thom Hunt ([email protected]).  

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