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Thoughts of Ryan Hall conjure up visions of the final kilometers of 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and a 25 year old blond marathoner - smiling and occasionally pointing to the heavens - as he raced all alone to one of the most dominating victories in U.S. Olympic marathon trials history.


But a career occasionally spiced with truly scintillating performances - such as his 2011 fourth-place Boston clocking of 2:04:58 - has recently been marred by injury. In fact, Hall's runner-up finish two years ago in Houston's 2012 Olympic marathon Trials - earning Hall his second Olympic team berth - was the last time Hall crossed a marathon finish line.

Since then, a string of injuries has plagued Hall's racing. A leg injury shortly before the 20K mark in 2012 Olympic marathon forced the American Olympian to step off London's loop course. Lingering health issues continued to spoil his 2013 competition plans. While the American half marathon record holder was able to fit in several lower-key races - including a 64:10 half in late May - nagging injuries forced Hall to abandon the centerpiece of his 2013 racing schedule. A quadriceps strain in his training build-up prompted Hall to cancel another planned Boston Marathon appearance. And a nagging hip problem kept Hall from the New York City Marathon starting line.

Ryan Hall - who politely declined several invitations to speak for this article - has always been viewed as an extremely gifted, yet somewhat enigmatic, distance talent. After a sterling prep career, Hall moved on to Stanford for a collegiate career that sported highs and lows. His senior year, he captured the 2005 NCAA Div. I 5000 crown. Later that month, Hall raised eyebrows at the USATF outdoor championships when his PR 13:16.03 third-place finish in the 5000 gained him a spot on the USA national team. He finished 10th in a highly competitive 5000 final at the Helsinki World Championships.

After college, it took Ryan Hall a while to discover his best event. After several years experimenting - with mixed success - with the 5000, road racing, and cross-country, Hall broke through big time. In Houston in early 2007, Hall's stunning - and somewhat unexpected - half marathon win in 59:43 shattered Mark Curp's 21-year-old American record by over a minute and unquestionably directed the young distance star to the marathon. Not only does Hall's half marathon AR still stand, to this day no other American has broken an hour over the 13.1 mile distance.

Since then, the flashes of brilliance that have dotted Hall's career have been intertwined with a slew of challenging moments: periodic injuries; coaching changes; nomadic and exotic training routines; and periods of silence which run counter to the normally comfortable relationship Hall has developed with the media.

Following an injury-plagued year where he raced infrequently and performed erratically when he did, Hall even faced questions about a possible return to where he first found success: the track. "I am pretty far removed from the track. It would take a lot of hard work to get back to that level on the track" admitted Hall in a late fall interview with the Shoe Addicts at the New York City Marathon. "My heart is with the marathon. That's not to say that I'm not going to go to the track to do 400 meter repeats to make me a better marathoner." But the 31 year old athlete who has run 26 miles 385 yards faster than any other American under all conditions understands the marathon is his event. "Especially with the way Americans are competing on the track these days, it is very difficult to compete on the track," Hall notes. "So I've kind of found my niche with the marathon and I'll probably just stick with that."

Hall is currently splitting his time between California and Flagstaff, where he is reportedly working with a new training group - likely seeking to recapture the health and inner peace that will allow him to regain the fitness and the swagger to compete effectively once again with the best marathoners on the planet.

Ryan Hall is well known - and widely respected - for his deep-seated sense of spirituality - the guiding force in his life. If past behavior is any clue, Hall will undoubtedly continue to call upon that source of strength as he seeks to recapture his health, his fitness, his aggressive pacesetting, and the fearless approach to competition that placed him among the world's top marathoners. And for those who admire and respect America's fastest marathoner - and there are many - the return to the roads of a rejuvenated Ryan Hall would be truly divine.

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

2020 Mid-American Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships

Dave HunterOn February 28-29, Dave served as the Color Analyst on the live ESPN3 broadcast of this championship gathering. Coverage of this 2-day conference championship can be viewed on the ESPN app.

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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