Thursday, August 11, 2011

Appreciating Alan Webb

Webb in his winning days (TrackAndFieldPhoto)
We haven't heard a lot about Alan Webb lately, but it's hard to get too deep into a conversation without his name coming up. While Webb recently confirming that he's moved back to Virginia and will be coached by UVA's Jason Vigilante, he has yet to run a race this summer. There have been grumblings about some injuries ever since leaving Alberto Salazar and the Oregon Project, but hopefully we'll see him later in the summer, after Daegu, and at minimum, at the 5th Avenue Mile (where he ran 3:53.72 at the end of 2010).

With the London Olympics just a year away, any true US Distance fan is likely hopeful that Webb can get sharp and compete for a spot on the team, as like Tiger Woods in Golf, Track is better when Alan Webb is competing at a high level. His tenacity and passion make him exciting to watch every time he's in the field, and when he's on, he is extremely tough to beat. His 2007 1500 time would right with Silas Kiplagat as the world leader this year and his 800 that same year would be just .01 behind Nick Symmonds.

That in mind, I've compiled six classic Webb races below that show the talent he has and the promise that could still be there if he can get healthy and fit again. The races are in chronological order and, of course, start with his High School American Record of 3:53.43 at the 2001 Prefontaine Classic. Next up is his epic battle with Dathan Ritzenhein at the Cardinal Invitational 10k in 2006, where they traded the lead most of the race, before Webb won in a kick. Next up is the first of four races from his magical summer of 2007. The first is his win over Bernard Lagat at USA's, where he pulls another gear out with 50 to go. His joy after the race is exhilarating. Next is his first Golden League win in Paris. He outkicks Mehdi Baala in the last 100 and quiets the French crowd in the process. Next is his strange, but amazing American Mile Record of 3:46.91 in Brasschaat, Belgium. And finally is his outkicking of Gary Reed in Heusden to PR in the 800 with an electric 1:43.84 (in similar fashion to his win over Lagat at USA's).

Without further adieu, here are six classic Alan Webb races:

Where it all began: Webb's 3:53.43 at the 2001 Pre Classic (5/25/01)

Battle with Ritz to run 27:34 for 10k at the 2006 Cardinal Invite (4/30/06)

Pulling away from Lagat  to win the 2007 USATF 1500 (6/24/07)

3:30.54 1500 PR and first Golden League win in Paris (7/6/07)

American record of 3:46.91 in Brasschaat, Belgium (7/21/07)

1:43.84 800 PR at Heusden (7/28/07)

Also, check out  "Sub 4:00: Alan Webb and the Quest for the Fastest Mile" by "Running with the Buffaloes" author (and UNC MBA grad), Chris Lear on

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  1. Impressive early career breaking 4 in high school and setting the American mile record but disappointing after that. Didn't make Olympic teams and didn't do anything note worthy after the mile record. Hope he does better with triathlons. He will own the run leg.