The now self-coached Ryan Hall announced he will run the 2011 Boston Marathon. Photo:
The now self-coached Ryan Hall is gearing up to run the 2011 Boston Marathon. Photo:

Will the third time be the charm?

Written by: David Monti
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

The fastest American ever at the Boston Marathon, Ryan Hall, has decided to restart his marathon career at that historic race next April, organizers announced today.  His appearance will mark the third consecutive year that Hall, 28, will run America’s oldest marathon, one of the five commercial races of the World Marathon Majors.

“I am excited to be part of the John Hancock elite team for the third year in a row,” Hall said in a prepared statement referring to John Hancock Financial, the Boston-based insurance giant which provides the funding for the race’s elite fields. “I can’t wait to be back in Hopkinton in April ready to test myself over the most historic marathon course in America.  I love the Boston Marathon and hope that both my experience training on and racing in the Boston Marathon will lead to something very special in the 2011 race.”

Boston will be the first marathon Hall will contest without the coaching of Terrence Mahon of the Mammoth Track Club.  Hall left Mahon’s group to coach himself after withdrawing from the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last October citing fatigue and over-training.  Under Mahon’s coaching, Hall broke the American record for the half-marathon in 2007 (59:43), set a USA marathon debut record of 2:08:24 in London in 2007, won the USA Olympic Trials marathon later that year in a championships record of 2:09:02, then became the first-ever American-born athlete to break the 2:07 barrier, clocking a 2:06:17 personal best at London in 2008.  Hall, who also finished 10th at the Olympic Games marathon in Beijing, and remains the second-fastest American ever behind former world record holder Khalid Khannouchi.

At Boston, Hall has enjoyed qualified successes.  In his first attempt on the hilly course from Hopkinton to Boston’s Back Bay in 2009, the Stanford graduate did much of the leading in the first half of the race, fell all the way back to 9th place in the race’s middle stages, but battled back in the hills of Newton to finish third in 2:09:40.  In 2010, Hall was again up front early, fell back, but rallied to finish fourth in 2:08:41, the best time ever run by an American in Boston.  He was, however, well behind the winners Deriba Merga of Ethiopia (2009) and Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot (2010) both years.

An American man has not won the Boston Marathon since 1983 when Greg Meyer prevailed in 2:09:01.  But the resurgence in USA marathon running in the last ten years has at least put Americans in contention again.  American men have cracked the top-5 in three of the last five editions of the race (two in 2010, one in 2009 and three in 2006).  Hall has done it twice, and clearly finds Boston’s traditions alluring.

“Regardless of the day’s results, all of us who take on the unique journey of covering the 26.2 trying miles to Boylston Street can all say we partook in history,” Hall concluded.  “I am training with eager anticipation for the opportunity that the Boston Marathon offers, believing that all things are possible.  What better place to break through than in Boston?”