PHILADELPHIA (19-Sep) -- There is no half-marathon in the United States with a history which can match the ING Philadelphia Distance Run, and American Ryan Hall hopes to add to the race's distinguished record tomorrow when he runs it for the first time.
Hall, 26, who lives and trains in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., is already the American record holder for the half-marathon with his 59:43 clocking from the Aramco Houston Half-Marathon in 2007. At that race Hall passed through the 15 km, 10 mile and 20 km marks under the American records for each of those distances, but the event didn't have those marks certified or equipped with appropriate timing for record-setting.
But the organizers here have dispatched a seasoned measurer, Doug Thurston, to certify those marks in case Hall is running fast enough to set records. In comments he made at the race's expo yesterday, Hall is certain to have at least one eye on the clock. Energized in part by comments from his Mammoth Track Club teammate Deena Kastor, who set one of her American half-marathon records here in 2005, Hall is genuinely excited to race here.
"There's a lot of things about this race which drew me to it," Hall told a group of fans and reporters gathered in the ING Runners Lounge. "One of my training partners, Deena Kastor, the bronze medalist in the 2004 Olympics, she set the American record here. She's always talking about Philly, how fast it is, the course, the crowd support and what an awesome race it is. When you hear that day in and day out it makes you want to experience it for yourself."
Hall is running the USA Men's Marathon Championship at the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 1, and tomorrow's race will give him valuable feedback on his fitness. It also gives him something to get excited about while he's in the middle of marathon training which can be a grind.
"I've been looking forward to running Philly for a long time," he said. "It fits in perfect with my build-up for New York. I'm really excited to be here and take a crack at a fast time."
The American record for 15 km is 42:22 by Todd Williams, set in 1995 in Jacksonville, Fla. Hall ran an unofficial 42:21 split in Houston. The 10 mile record is 46:13 by Greg Meyer set in Washington, D.C., in 1983. Hall was 40 seconds faster than that in Houston, again unofficially. Hall passed the 20 km mark in approximately 57:06 in Houston, again well under his own USA record of 57:54 set at the IAAF World Road Running Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, in 2006.
The course record here is 1:00:27 by Khalid Khannouchi, then a Moroccan citizen, in 1997.
The weather for tomorrow should be excellent for running, as long as the wind stays calm. The website Weather.com is forecasting morning temperatures in the mid-50's F. (about 14 C) at the start. Everything could be lining up for Hall.
"It's fun to come to races like this that you get up for," Hall concluded. "It's so exciting to be here."