Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Olympic Trials Champion
Ryan Hall, Dan Browne To Compete at San Diego
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
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
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
“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]).