Ryan Hall, who set a national 20km record (57.54) while finishing 11th in the IAAF World Road Running Championships in Debrecen, Hungary in October, set his second American record in as many races, winning the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, in Houston, Texas, in 59.43 - a mark which also set a new continental record.
Hall, 24, broke the previous American record - 1.00.55 set in Philadelphia in 1985 by of Mark Curp - by three minutes, hitting the 10km marker in 28.21 en-route to his astounding victory.
The previous North American half marathon best was shared by two Mexican athletes, Dionicio Cerón (1994-January-23 in Tokyo) andGérman Silva (1994-September-24 in Oslo), who both ran 1.00,28.
Hall defeated Fasil Bizuneh (1.02.20) and 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist Mebrahtom Keflezighi (2.11.29) in the process.
Hall has found his groove in the longer races after being a strict 1.500m runner entering his collegiate career at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, USA.
Hall completed his collegiate career a 5.000m runner after suffering a series of setbacks and injuries with 1.500m training. In June 2005, the Stanford star won his first-ever NCAA title, running 13.22,22 for a new Stanford record in the 5.000m. Teammate Ian Dobson followed in 13.22,55.
Two weeks later, at the USA Track and Field Championships, Hall finished third in 13.16,03 to qualify for the IAAF World Track & Field Championships - he finished 16th in his heat, trailing only Dobson, and winner Tim Broe.
Hall's cross country brilliance was finally brought forth to life when he finished 2nd at the 2003 NCAA Championships to Dathan Ritzenhein, his old high school nemesis.
A USA high school cross country star - he was 3rd at the 2000 Footlocker High School Cross Country Championships behind Ritzenhein, who finished sixth at yesterday's Edinburgh Cross Country meet, and miler Alan Webb, who has churned on the motors to record 3.32,52/3.48,92/8.11,48 bests in the middle distances, Hall was known more for being a 1.500m star in high school, running 3.42,70 - the third fastest high school performance ever for the distance.
Hall was also the California state cross country champion during his junior and senior seasons at Big Bear High School.
Hall's younger brother Chad, is also a two-time California cross country champion, equalling his brother's family bragging rights. Chad, however, went one step further in winning the Footlocker Cross Country Championships, a feat which Ryan did not accomplish at that age.
Men's Racing, a New York Road Runners website, interviewed Hall after his terrific spring campaign in 2005, citing:
"To be honest, I haven't thought about that [being part of a US running renaissance] a lot. I hope that I can help inspire people to run faster and to train hard. I get really encouraged when I see guys like Broe running fast times. We need guys to run fast in the states too, so Americans can actually see it and be inspired by it. The more guys we have breaking down barriers, the better off American distance running will be. We still have a long ways to go but we have a good start. As far as me being a part of it all, I just train hard and give God the outcomes. Sometimes I think as Americans we think too much. We think about how fast 62 second pace is for 5Ks. I have a feeling the runners who are running sub 13:00 5Ks aren't caught up in thinking how fast 62s are, they just go out there and run gutsy races" (click here for full interview).
Indeed, Hall appears to have put his mind to rest when dealing with pacing chores, as he averaged 52 laps and change at a clip of 67,92 seconds per round today in his record run.
A question which arises is whether Hall will run a marathon in the near future, or if he will eye perhaps the 10.000m run. Hall seems capable of maintaining a 66-flat pace for 25 laps, a clip which will drop him to a 27.30 and likely spot at the IAAF World Championships in Osaka.
Only time will tell, however, as Hall eases into an easy run tomorrow, and sets his sights on the next prize, the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kenya in March. Hall has twice run in the World Cross Country Championships, finishing 43rd in last year's long course race in Fukuoka, and doubling back for a 19th placing in the short course race the following day.
1 Ryan Hall, USA, 59.43
2 Fasil Bizuneh, USA, 1.02.20
3 Mebrahtom Keflezighi, USA, 1.02.22
4 Andrew Carlson, USA, 1.02.43
5 Jason Lehmkule, USA, 1.02.50, 1.02.20
Ryan Hall's Personal Bests:
- 1.500 Metres: 3.42,70, Stanford, 2001-June-9
- Two Miles: 8.26,26, Carson, CA, 2006-May-21
- 5.000 Metres: 13.16,03, Carson, CA 2005-June-24
- 15 KM 43.25, Debrecen, 2006-October-8
- 20 KM 57.54, Debrecen, 2006-October-8
- Half Marathon: 59.42, Houston, 2007-January-14