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DyeStat 2001 Indoor

Jan 20, 2001 at the New York Armory, New York City

New Balance Games

Alan Webb 3:59.86 !!!

"I want to go faster."

Webb's pursuit of sub-4:00; what came before today

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Ryan Hall ran 4:09.46 in the men's elite mile, with splits of 60.9-2:00.7-3:04.6. (This courtesy of Doug Speck's caltrack.com, the California HS track site.)  So no double sub-4 today -- but the season is still young.  
What a 24 hours for HS track, with two records in one day (don't forget Laura Gerraughty, who passed the all time indoor AND outdoor records with her gigantic 53-11 shot put).

by John Dye

All week long, the promoters of the New Balance Games had been saying there was a mystery entry that would make it worth DyeStat's while to come to New York.  By Thursday, the email message was, "You MUST come."

Well, we came, and how sorry we would have been if we hadn't.  

In the most electrifying 4 minutes imaginable, South Lakes VA sr Alan Webb ran a 3:59.86 mile in the Men's Elite division against older runners, thus achieving these milestones:

  • US record indoor boys mile (breaking the record of Thom Hunt, San Diego CA, 4:02.7c, 1976.
  • US record indoor 1500 meters, en route, 3:43.27 (Hunt 3:46.6c, 1976)
  • 1st US sub-4:00 mile since 1967 (Marty Liquori)
  • 4th US high schooler ever under 4 minutes
  • 8th fastest US high school mile ever (Jim Ryun did it five times)

In the press conference afterward, Webb agreed it was a weight lifted off his shoulders to break 4 minutes. He said he thought he was ready last June before he got hurt and ended his 2000 campaign before the nationals. He didn't necessarily expect 4:00 today but he had great workouts lately and if the race went right he would go for it.

The race broke just right for his plan.  He stayed with the rabbit through half and nobody broke away too fast after that. He was able to maintain a steady pace and still be in contention. He didn't have to use himself up early just to maintain contact.   

Webb broke sharply with the leaders and ran a steady 3rd place through a half mile behind rabbit Lorris Adams and Kenyan Leonard Mucheru.  When Adams dropped out on the fifth lap, Webb moved up to second.  But Mucheru made a strong move to go ahead by 30 meters.  

Webb bided his time and didn't go with Mucheru.  "I knew it was too early, and I decided to be conservative," Webb said.  But Webb had a comfortable lead in second for 3  more laps.  With two laps to go, Webb started a move and felt himself tightening up, but worked through it.  

Webb digs in at start of bell lap

Coming in to the home stretch, Webb was gaining on Mucheru but was also challenged on either side.  "I stopped worrying about time and just wanted to hold my place," Webb said.  At the wire, it was Mucheru winning in 3:57.90 and Matt Holthaus just edging Webb for second in 3:59.74.  Webb went through the Lynx camera a tick later in 3:59.86 and his goal was reached.  

Webb's splits for quarter, half, three quarters, and 200 meters to go showed a rock steady pace:   
59.9
1:59.5
2:59.9
3:30.5.
3:59.86

The complete Men's Elite Mile results:  
1. Leonard Mucheru, Kenya-New Balance 3:41.11
2. Matt Holthaus, NYAC 3:59.74
3. Alan Webb, unattached 3:59.86
4. Scott Anderson, una 4:00.15
5. Clay Schwabe, Army 4:00.61
6. John Honerkamp, NYAC 4:04.59
7. Art Siemers, Boulder Runners Club 4:05.08
8. Scott Strand, New Balance 4:09.05
9. Eugene O'Neill, Ireland/NYAC 4:10.10
10. Ricardo Santos, Canada/NYAC 4:11.22
11. Amerigo Rossi, NYAC 4:13.41
12. Niall Bruton, Ireland 4:15.27

Now what for Webb, having put this goal to rest so early in his senior year?  

"I don't want to stop at 3:59.  I want to go faster."

And then there is the question of Dathan Ritzenhein, who should be waiting at the Nike Indoor Classic in Maryland.  According to Coach Scott Raczko, Webb wants to make amends for his loss to Ritzenhein in the Foot Locker Cross Country championships in Orlando in December.  "He knows he is better than he showed in Orlando," Raczko said.  Thus, if a 2-mile matchup against Ritzenhein is available in Maryland, Webb will opt for the longer distance instead of the mile.  (At last year's NIC, Webb won the mile and Ritzenhein the 2-mile.)

So we know that the 2001 season won't climax with a sub-4:00 mile.  The fun is just beginning.  And the next historic chapter could come before we go to sleep.  The third member of the prep boys superstar trio, Ryan Hall of Big Bear CA, is entered in the men's elite mile at the Los Angeles Invitational at 7:30 pm Pacific time, just 8 hours after Webb's historic run in New York.   

Webb's pursuit of sub-4:00; what came before today


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