Ryan Hall Sees Chicago Marathon To Olympic Trials 14-Week Gap As Ideal

Time Will Allow Him To Take Month Down, Start 10-Week Marathon Buildup

By David Monti
July 28, 2011
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Most of the top American marathon runners will be skipping the fall marathons to conserve their bodies for the Olympic Marathon Trials, scheduled for Saturday, January 14, in Houston.  The conventional wisdom says that running two marathons within a two to three month period is one too many.

Ryan Hall disagrees.

Hall, 28, the reigning USA Olympic Marathon Trials champion, thinks that the 96 days he will have between the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the Trials will be perfect.

"I've definitely thought through that scenario quite a lot," Hall told reporters on a conference call today hosted by the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  Speaking from Chicago he added: "I actually look at it as the perfect amount of time between Chicago and the Trials.  I don't start my (marathon) training until ten weeks before. It's actually perfect for me to have 14 weeks between."

Hall, who is self-coached and just came off of a high altitude training stint in St. Moritz, Switzerland, figures that after Chicago he'll take one week completely off, then another to do light running.  Then he'll start his dedicated build-up for Houston.

"That should lead me to make good progress to making the Olympic Trials," he said.  "How can I be best prepared for the Olympic team?  Chicago just fit in perfectly with my plans."

In making his decision to run Chicago --a race he withdrew from last year citing fatigue-- Hall said he thought backward from the 2012 Olympic Marathon next August 12 in London.  Because he has to run the Trials in order to make the team, Hall then asked himself what was the best possible preparation for that race, and concluded that Chicago fit the bill.  He said that he needed to "practice some specific things (and that) Chicago is the perfect place to allow me to practice those things."  He said that this included honing his race tactics and learning how to go for the win in a big marathon and not merely run fast.

"In Boston I functioned as the pacemaker," said Hall who ran a personal best 2:04:58 to finish in fourth place, the fastest time every recorded by a USA marathoner.  He continued: "I'll be able to save my energy for those crucial last miles (in Chicago)."

Race director Carey Pinkowski, who has also recruited Boston runner-up Moses Mosop of Kenya for his event, will have pacemakers leading his race, something that Hall has been craving.  He hasn't run on a flat marathon course with pacemakers since London in 2008 when he ran 2:06:07, his previous personal best.

"The great thing about having paced races is you don't have to think the first 20 miles," Hall remarked, admitting that staying mentally alert for every kilometer at the Olympics, Boston and New York was fatiguing.  "One of the benefits of having a paced race is you don't have to be mentally engaged the last until the last 15 kilometers."

A fast time is also on Hall's mind for Chicago.  Because the Boston course doesn't conform to IAAF and USATF specifications for record setting (the start and finish are too widely separated, and the course has three times the allowable limit for elevation loss), Khalid Khannouchi still holds the official American record of 2:05:38 set in London in 2002.  Hall thinks he can better that mark.

"You know what, it's funny," Hall mused.  "Now that I've run 2:04 at Boston, even though that's not a certified record, I think of myself as a 2:04 marathoner.  That's a big purpose of coming to the Chicago Marathon, is to run fast... to be part of a historic race." He continued: "It will be nice for me not to function as the rabbit this year, but to tuck in and enjoy the ride.  I love to run fast.  It would be icing on the cake to get the official American record on the course."

Hall is also running Chicago to benefit his charity, the Ryan Hall STEPS Foundation.  Not only can ordinary runners sign-up to fundraise for his charity --he said proceeds will go to anti-poverty programs in Kenya to honor the late Samuel Wanjiru-- but Hall will be donating his prize money to the cause, too.

"I'm very excited to announce that I'm pledging all of my winnings to the STEPS Foundation," Hall declared.  He concluded: "The biggest reason is the memory of Sammy Wanjiru.  We wanted to see how we could get involved."

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The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, October 9, beginning and ending in Grant Park, adjacent to Lake Michigan.  The event will be the penultimate stop of the 2010/2011 World Marathon Majors series which will conclude at the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 4.  Registration for the event is still open for charity runners at www.chicagomarathon.com.

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