Flashback: Hall Sets US Half Marathon Record

By David Monti, @d9monti

(c) 2017 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

   NOTE: It will be 10 years this week since Ryan Hall broke the USA
(and North American) half-marathon record at the Aramco Houston
Half-Marathon on 14 January, 2007.  Since Galen Rupp may be trying for
Hall’s record on the same course this Sunday, your editor thought you’d
might like to read the story from the day Hall set his mark.  Your
editor was lucky enough to be on the lead vehicle and watched the entire
race  –Ed.

HOUSTON (14-Jan-2007) — Ryan Hall, the 24 year-old former Stanford star
from Big Bear Lake, Calif., toppled one of the most time-honored
records in all of U.S. road running today.  Emerging from the foggy dawn
here, he scooted away early from a strong field at the Aramco Houston
Half-Marathon and blew away Mark Curp’s 21 year-old U.S. half-marathon
record by an astonishing 72 seconds.  With his 59:43 clocking, Hall also
surpassed German Silva’s North American record of 1:00:28 set back in
1994, and became the fastest non-African in the half-marathon of

“My plan was to just see how I felt,” said Hall after running through
the streets of Houston accompanied only by the race’s lead vehicles.  “I
was just going with the race pace I could maintain.”

Hall opened the race with a 4:38 mile, and was closely followed by Fasil
Bizuneh, Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi, and 2004 Olympian Dan
Browne.  By the second mile (9:08/4:30), Hall had a seven-second lead
and was already pulling away, hitting the 5-K mark in 14:05, 17 seconds
up on Bizuneh and Keflezighi.  He was surprised by how easy the miles

“I’ve been training at altitude,” said Hall who trains in Mammoth Lakes,
Calif., with Team Running USA under coach Terrence Mahon.  “Four-fifty
(per mile) pace is good (at altitude).”

But the lean and blond Hall was running much faster than that, averaging about 4:30 per mile (2:48 per kilometer).

“I was getting the splits on my watch and I saw 4:30’s,” Hall recounted.  “I said, ‘I’m having a pretty good day here.'”

It was much better than good.  Hall passed 5 miles (about 8 km) in
22:48, 10 km in 28:21, 15 km in 42:21 and ten miles in 45:33.  His 15-K
split was one second faster than Todd Williams’s U.S. record, and his
ten mile split was 40 seconds faster than Greg Meyer’s U.S. 10-mile
record.  Hall also passed the 20-K mark much faster than his own
American record (approx. 57:06 vs. 57:54), but there was no official
timing at that mark and the press truck was too far away to get a
reasonably accurate split.

Sailing down the finish straight on Rusk, Hall waved to the crowd,
pumped his arms and, as is his tradition, looked to the skies to thank
God.  He busted the tape with authority, sealing his place in the record

“I really wanted to hit this one right,” said Hall who with coach Mahon
had been pointing for this race.  “We’re still kind of training through
this, getting ready for a spring marathon.”

Bizuneh ended up running with Keflezighi for the entire race, and had a
little bit extra in the final push to the line, sprinting to second
place in a personal best 1:02:20.  Keflezigh finished two seconds behind
and was impressed with Hall’s performance.

“A lot of us have been targeting that record,” said Keflezighi who said
that Curp’s record was actually a little soft.  But now Hall had put it
out of reach for at least a little while.  “He put it down pretty good,”
said Keflezighi.

Hall received a fitting payday for his accomplishment today.  He won a
total of $21,000: $12,000 for winning the U.S. title, $5,000 for
breaking the U.S. record and $4,000 for breaking the course record


Olympian Elva Dryer of Gunnison, Colo., had a very successful
half-marathon professional debut** today, winning the women’s U.S.
Championships in 1:11:42, just five seconds up on her Athens Olympics
roommate, Katie O’Neill of Milton, Mass.

“It was a solid race for me,” said Dryer who earned $12,000 for her
victory.  “Today for me this was an important race for me to see what I
have to do to get where I want to be,” she added.

O’Neill, who had only recently overcome a stress fracture of her pelvis,
tried to keep Dryer close througout the race, but the gap was just too
hard to close.

“I tried to shrink it once, but I died,” said O’Neill who ran for Yale University.

Finishing a surprising third was 24 year-old Michelle Lilienthal of Philadelphia.  The
former University of Wisconsin Badger, who ran a 2:35:51 marathon at
Twin Cities last October, shattered her personal best with a 1:12:46

“I was pretty much on my own from mile-3,” said Lilienthal.

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