"Alan Webb’s fabled track career may be nearing its finish, with his final race potentially coming as early as February 15. After that, he might be reincarnated as a triathlete.
Webb’s contract with Nike, which he'd had since turning pro in 2002, ended on December 31. Webb, 31, told Runner’s World Newswire by email, “I am without a contract. I still have a couple friends who help me out with shoes.” He ran a 4:02.81 mile for fourth place at the Dempsey Arena in Seattle on Saturday while representing the Bowerman Athletic Club. “BAC is the club that my wife has been running with and Jon Marcus is a BAC coach," Webb wrote. Marcus, who also coaches at Portland State, was coaching Webb for free. “Jon is a long-time friend of mine and has seen what works and what doesn't,” Webb wrote.
But the new coach and lack of sponsorship could soon be moot.
“Our plan is for him to run the Wanamaker Mile," Ray Flynn, who is Webb’s agent and the meet director of the Millrose Games on February 15 in New York, told Newswire. “Alan has a long history of successful competition at the Armory. [His first sub-4:00 mile in high school was a 3:59.86 indoors there.] He’s an iconic athlete, an American record holder. I think he’s getting back into decent form,” noted Flynn, but he added, “it’s quite likely that it may be one of his last races, certainly [his last] indoor track race. So it’ll be like a retirement.”
Flynn continued, “You’re not going to see him run on the track after this.” Pressed if he specifically meant that this would be Webb’s final track race, Flynn responded, “It’s quite likely that that will be the case.”
Webb became American track’s biggest sensation when he broke Jim Ryun’s U.S. high school mile record by running 3:53.43 in 2001. He was a 2004 Olympian, and there was a period in 2007, after victories in major races in New York and Paris and his American mile record of 3:46.91 in Belgium, when he was arguably the top 1500/mile runner on the planet. At that year's world championships in Osaka, however, he came undone and placed eighth in the 1500 final won by Bernard Lagat.
Subsequent to that season, Webb had myriad injuries, Achilles tendon surgery in 2010, and multiple coaching changes, with Alberto Salazar, Jason Vigilante, and Jerry Schumacher acting as mentors. Racing results were not up to his former level. In 2013, he did not qualify to run any event at the USA Track & Field Championships.
On the topic of Webb's shoe contract, Flynn said, “We’re talking to some people. I don’t have anything firm yet from anybody.” He confirmed that Nike “didn’t want to extend his [Webb’s] contract.
“Alan made quite a bit of money over the years,” observed Flynn. “I’m sure he’s got some reserves.” The agent continued, “I think he’s at that stage of his career, also, [when] he will probably be transitioning, if he’s going to stay as an active athlete, to something different. He’s mentioned doing a triathlon. I think he’s looking toward doing that at some stage in the near future.”
Webb was an age-group swimmer before focusing on track in high school, and credits the sport with helping develop him into a middle-distance track star. “He was a great swimmer,” noted Flynn. “There’s definitely some good possibilities for him to be successful if he does a triathlon.”