I usually don’t comment much on professional racing because I don’t really follow it all that much. I do follow Ryan Hall on Twitter and I was surprised to see that he’s splitting with the Mammoth Track Club and Terrance Mahon. From his explanation, it certainly sounds like he’s going solo and it’s not exactly clear what he means by “taking his running to the next level”. Many think he’s making a bad move by attempting to coach himself and others think he’s lost his competitive drive, hoping to only achieve some sort of spiritual euphoria in his running.
For those of you who don’t know, Ryan and his wife Sara are very religious people. They’ve founded the Hall Steps Foundation to fund initiatives that tackle structural causes of poverty such as chronic lack of access to basic entitlements including clean water, shelter and physical security. Ryan often tweets about God and Jesus and the foundation and it’s clear that his main priority in life is his faith and this mission. Those of you who know me well know that I’m not at all religious. I tend to inwardly roll my eyes when people talk about running for Jesus, but everyone has they’re motivation and I’m not going to say mine is better or worse than anyone else’s.
The important thing to note is that Ryan Hall doesn’t owe us anything. Sure, he’s been billed as America’s best chance at an Olympic gold in the marathon, but if he doesn’t want to be competitive and he’s comfortable leaving that behind, then we should be too. If we can’t, then shame on us for living vicariously through him and not pursuing our own dreams. Kudos to him for making a gutsy decision.
This is all speculation, of course. Ryan Hall may show up self trained at a mysterious spring marathon and set a new American record. Either way, he’ll be responsible for ultimate results of his decision (good or bad) and I’m quite certain he’s perfectly happy to accept that responsibility.