Alan Webb, the Next Chapter, by Doug Binder, note by Larry Eder

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Alan Webb, 2012 Olympic Trials, 
photo by

In a story written by Doug Binder, published on, Alan Webb will be looking to the marathon as a distance that he sees as his next challenge. Webb, all of 30, is the current American record holder in the men's mile and the high school mile. Webb has had moments of ecstacy when it comes to running. 

Updated 25 October 2012:

Alan Webb told that his comments about running a marathon are idle comments. He will probably move up to the 5,000 meters-10,000 meters before venturing to the marathon. "It was just an idle comment." 

The first time I saw Alan Webb run was at the National Scholastic meet in Raleigh, NC in 1999. A sophomore, the late Doug Speck and Mike Byrnes told me to watcht this guy, as he smashed Jim Ryun's sophomore class mile record of 4:07.98 with a 4:06.94! 

A high school phenom, Webb wowed the crowd at the Nike Pre Classic in 2001 when he set the high school prep record for the mile of 3:53:43. Hicham El Guerrouj, who had won the mile, congratulated the young man. Webb was on the road to greatness.  

In the fall of 2000, Webb had taken second in the Foot Locker Cross country final to Dathan Ritzenhein. In the winter of 2001, Alan Webb had become the first high school runner to break four minutes for the mile indoors, breaking the 1976 record of Thom Hunt, who had run 4:02.7. Webb ran 3:59.86 at the New Balance Invitational. So, as Alan Webb graduated high school, he had a 3:59.86 indoors and a 3:53.43 outdoors! 

Hind sight is always 20-20. Alan left college after only a year, in a program that developed Nick Willis, Nate Brannen, among others. Ron Warhurst, the coach at Michigan, created milers, tough milers, milers who made Olympic and World Champ finals. Milers who medaled. 

So much was thrown at Webb, so much pressure was put on Alan, that, for much of his career, I had no clue how he focused. Yet, he stayed pretty grounded. 

In 2007, just prior to the World Champs in Osaka, Webb set the current AR for the mile. He had run a 27:34 for the 10,000m, a 13:10 for the 5,000 meters and a 1:43 for the 800 meters. In the final of the 1,500 meters, after having caught a cold, Webb finished eighth. In the semi-final, the 52.8 he ran for the last 400 meters was what he would have needed in the final for a medal. Medals are won by inches and leans at the tape...ask Bernard Lagat, who won the 1,500 meters and the 5,000 meters in Osaka.

Webb's performances in the 2008 Olympic Trials did not get him into the Olympic Games. In 2012, moving up to the 5,000 meters, Webb finished 21 of 23 runners in his semi-final. Rumors abounded this fall, that Webb would be running in the Portland area once again, this time, though, not with Alberto Salazar, but with Jerry Schumacher. 

The key for an athlete of Alan Webb's obvious talent is how to manage the pressure he puts on himself, the pressure put on by media and fans, the pressure of a world class athlete and the obvious pressure of being a husband and father. Lots to juggle. Perhaps the final two will complement the first three. 

We wish Alan Webb the best of luck. He has the talent to do well. Like Dick Quax, Greg Meyer, Alberto Salazar, men who broke four minutes for the mile and five minute pace for the marathon, Webb has the talent and the endurance to excel. 

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