Flyin’ Past Ryun
Astounding high schooler Alan Webb smashed Jim Ryun's 36-year-old HS record for the Mile at storied Hayward Field
By Tim Layden, Sports Illustrated
There was little doubt that high school senior Alan Webb had arrived in Eugene, Ore. for Sunday's Prefontaine Classic physically ready to break Jim Ryun's hallowed 36-year-old high school Mile record of 3:55.3. Since going sub-four (3:59.86) indoors in January, Webb had trained and raced like a low-3:50s Miler. He had done startling workouts, including repeat 400-meter sprints in 53 seconds. He had run with purpose and speed against high school competition. "He's fit enough to run 3:54 or even 3:53," USA Track & Field CEO and former Miler Craig Masback said the day before the Pre meet. "That doesn't mean he'll do it under these circumstances."
Translation: Last Thursday, Webb, 18, was dropped into a fantasy world a continent from his Reston, Va. home. On Friday afternoon he sat next to Mile world record holder Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco for a van ride to a training session at the University of Oregon's storied Hayward Field. On Saturday he arrived at a press conference to find director's chairs labeled: MARION JONES, MAURICE GREENE, HICHAM EL GUERROUJ, STACY DRAGILA and... ALAN WEBB. Wide-eyed, he whispered, "I can't believe I'm in the same room with these people." Before Sunday's Bowerman Mile, a race that included not only El Guerrouj but also Olympic bronze medalist Bernard Lagat of Kenya and half a dozen other world class runners, the raucous crowd of 11,221 shook the bleachers when Webb was announced.
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