American miler Alan Webb has been added to the Boston Indoor Games on 27-January, organisers announced today through a press release.
This is great news for the American fans, as many of them have anxiously awaited both Webb's return to the track, and, more specifically, to the mile.
Webb, a two-time USA Outdoor 1.500m champion, a 2005 IAAF World Championships finalist and a 2004 Olympian at 1.500m, is making a bit of a comeback after injuring his hamstring in 2006 - a season which he took a few calculated risks by upping his racing distance to 10.000m -- 21 laps further than his specialty.
Webb had a break-through 2005 season, one which saw him run personal bests at every distance from 800m to 5.000m, and had added some intriguing international cross country races to his base last winter, running four races in Spain.
Webb and his agent, Ray Flynn, had planned on having Webb funnel down from strength to speed as the 2006 season unfolded.
Everything started off wonderfully for Webb, as he recorded the fastest-ever American debut at 10km, running 27.34,72, for a win at the Cardinal Invitational at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
Flynn had stated during the course of 2006 that Webb's focus on longer distances earlier in the year would help him have strength to run fast miles in August and September.
"There is nothing wrong with running a 10 earlier in the year, then running some 5s, then getting down to the mile at the end of summer. (In fact), It's a great plan, it's a perfect plan... Time will only show, (but) Alan will perform really well during the summer.
Webb handled the 25-lap workload very well, running rather even splits (2.45,2, 2.43,9, 2.47,0, 2.46,3, 2.45,6, 2.47,1, 2.47,7, 2.47,0, 2.46,3, 2.38,6) in the race. Webb split 13.48,0 at the half-way point, and ran his second 5km in 13.46,7.
He showed that he had maintained the excellent strength level he had gained by running longer cross country meets overseas, and had recovered from his winter sickness which kept him out of the USA Cross Country National Championships.
Many of Webb's fans across the pond there in America disagreed with Flynn, however, and began questioning the tactic of running a 10km race of that quality so early in Webb's career, believing the plan would backfire on Webb.
Several spoke out on message boards, and stated that Webb needed more speed, not more strength. I was of the opinion that Webb had missed out on his mid-winter/early-spring goal of running longer cross country races when he ran afoul of illness, and had simply extended his winter training a few weeks into the spring campaign in order to get back on track.
The worst came to pass for Webb following that monumental effort, as he was described by his agent, Ray Flynn, as being a "little injured" heading into his next race, the 2006 Adidas Track Classic 2-mile. Webb finished sixth in the eight-lap race with a time of 8.33,92 - well off his American record time of 8.11,48 set the previous year in Oregon.
Webb further aggravated the injury a week later at the 2006 Prefontaine Classic - the last track race of his season.
Webb ran a frustrating mile in Oregon, running 4.00,87 after stepping off the track briefly coming around the final turn, grabbing the back of his leg and then continuing to the finish. Webb's time was 11,95 seconds off his personal best time of 3.48,92 set one year earlier in Oslo.
Bernard Lagat, the American record-holder in the 1.500m (3.29,30) and second-fastest miler in American history (3.48,38), won the race in a world-leading 3.51,53.
Webb traveled overseas at the conclusion of the summer campaign, running a 1.51,59 800m (3rd-place) in Scotland, and a solo 4.02,73 mile in the wind. They were not the greatest marks, but they put him back on track, gave him focus, and helped him end his season with a victory against international competition.
His return back to the international scene not only benefits the American fans, but provides us here in Europe, as Webb has set three of his four personal bests (1.500m, mile, 5.000m) on European soil.
Webb appears to have fully recovered from his injury and anemia, recording a 23.37 at the 2006 Mayor's Cup at Franklin Park in Boston, USA on 22-October, a time which was 18 seconds faster than Webb ran in a runner-up placing three years ago.
Webb went on to place fourth at the U.S. Cross Country Nationals 12K, win the U.S. 1.500m title to qualify for the 2004 Olympic Games, and set a mile PR of 3.50,84 following his Mayor's Cup run in 2003.
Webb, who hasn't raced indoors since 2005, will toe the line in the mile against Chris Lukezic, the reigning U.S. 1500 metre champion indoors and 2006 World Indoor Championships finalist, among others. Lukezic and Webb were training partners two seasons ago.
Webb has an indoor mile best of 3.57,52 set in 2004 - a year which saw only two more of his countrymen break 4.00 indoors.
Results from the 2006 Boston Indoor Games Mile:
Mile: 1. Angwenyi (Ken) 3.55,95; 2. Lunn (USA) 3.56,77 (American Leader); 3. Rotich (Ken) 3.56,83; 4. Brannen (Can) 3.57,17; 5. Goucher (Nik)3.57,60 PR; 6. Woods (Can) 3.57,87 PR; 7. Sullivan (Can) 3.58,07; 8. Myers (USA) 3.58,24 PR; 9. Speaight (GB) 3.58,49 PR; 10. Lukezic (USA) 3.58,53 PR; 11. Kleimenhagen (USA) 3.59,00 PR; 12. Kiptum (Ken) 4.02,95.
HS Mile: 1. Coe 4.07,30 PR (High School Leader) (8, 8 HS); 2. O’Lionaird 4.09,41 PR; 3. Acosta 4.10,32; 4. McManamon 4.10,72; 5. Gauson 4.11,41; 6. A. Taye 4.11,44; 7. Harbor 4.12,68; 8. S. Taye 4.12,89; 9. Phillips 4.13,19; 10. Mitchell 4.13,42; 11. Rhodes-Devey 4.13,59; 12. Kelsey 4.15,35; 13. White 4.16,27.
Alan Webb's Personal Bests:
- 800m: 1.46,53 (2004)
- 1.000m: 2.20,32 (2005)
- 1.500m: 3.32,52 (2005)
- Mile: 3.48,92 (2005)
- 3.000m: 7.39,28 (2005)
- 2-Mile: 8.11,48 (2005)
- 5.000m: 13.10,86 (2005)
- 10.000m 27.34,72 (2006)
NB: Webb won the Father Diamond Invitational Mile held indoors at George Mason University on Saturday, 2007-January-6.
Full Results (Courtesy GMU)
Men 1 Mile Run 1, Webb, Alan, Nike, 3:59.34. 2, Burley, Sam, Asics, 4:09.58. 3, LaBoy, Andre, Georgetown, 4:09.70. 4, Scheid, Justin, Georgetown, 4:15.73. 5, Dalpiaz, Brian, Georgetown, 4:21.24. 6, Emerson, Zachary, Mount St. Mary's, 4:21.77. 7, Sanders, Thurman, Howard, 4:34.13. 8, Cavedo, Brent, Mary Washington, 4:39.53. 9, Boccher, Travis, George Mason, 4:41.12. 10, Cash, Matt, Mary Washington, 4:41.39. 11, Phillips, James, George Mason, 4:43.23. 12, Langat, Geoffrey, Virginia Union, 4:44.61. 13, Andes, Will, George Mason, 4:58.47. --, Pachella, Michael, George Mason, DNF. --, Smith, Richard, Unattached Athle, DNF.