Ryan Hall is out of the New York City marathon, and we all feel bad when an athlete is injured.
I have watched Ryan Hall run since his sophomore year in high school. Hall has developed into one of our most talented, and mercurial athletes in a generation. As Kevin Mangan, our intern at American Track & Field has written, never, ever write Ryan Hall out.
A few years ago, a few young Kenyans confided in me that they consider Ryan Hall a “White Kenyan”. By that, they meant that he runs with the abandon of a Kenyan athlete and he is capable of great things-the highest complement.
We want Ryan Hall healthy and fit, and racing smart for selfish reasons. But, for other reasons, as a track fan, I want to see a guy who is quite capable of sub 27 minutes in the 10k, sub 13 minutes in the 5k, just blast a marathon into the stratosphere.
For Ryan Hall, that will require something that his current lifestyle does not seem to include: a solitary lifestyle. Distance runners, to be successful, need to be, during their buildup, quite selfish. They train, they eat, they sleep. They do not do charity build ups, they do not do tons of press conferences, and they do not fly to several places a week.
Once a Runner, the cult novel on running by the John Parker (if you have not read this, you are simply, put, out of your mind), tells the story of Quentin Cassidy training to be the best miler he can be. Cassidy trains in isolation with a guy who has already won an Olympic medal. He focuses.
We want to see Ryan Hall focus and win the big ones that have eluded him so far.
Kevin Mangan, who is less strident that me, puts it well on the ability of Ryan Hall, now injured.
Ryan Hall’s “redemption will have to wait”, note by Kevin Mangan
“Redemption will have to wait…”. Ryan Hall unfortunately has had to withdraw from next month’s NYC Marathon. Perhaps the greatest American marathon talent in his generation, the Stanford product has seen a string of very consistent and successful years turn into a few years mired with injuries. From 2006 until his DNF in the Olympic Marathon in 2012 Hall finished in the top five in every marathon he ran except at the Beijing Olympic Marathon, where he was tenth. Hall is the US Half Marathon Record holder and has run the fastest marathon ever by a US citizen (albeit with a tailwind on the non-record legal Boston course, but 2:04:58 is solid in any conditions). The talent is there. The mental toughness is there. The marathon experience is there. The consistency was there, but now it’s gone and it’s hard to get back. But with a once in a generation talent like Hall, we may very well see him finish top five at Boston or London this spring. Count Ryan Hall out at your own risk. As Mr Hall said himself: “Redemption will have to wait, but it will be all the more sweet”.