Walt Murphy is one of the finest track statisticians that I know. Walt does #ThisDayinTrack&FieldHistory, an excellent daily service that provides true geek stories about our sport. You can check out the service for FREE with a free one-month trial subscription! (email: WaltMurphy44@gmail.com ) for the entire daily service. We will post a few historic moments each day, beginning February 1, 2024.

This Day in Track & Field–May 28

(c)Copyright 2024-all rights reserved. It may not be reprinted or retransmitted without permission.

By Walt Murphy’s News and Results Service (wmurphy25@aol.com), used with permission

2001–South Lakes (Va.) senior Alan Webb, with the able assistance of coach Scott Raczko, fulfilled the great promise he had shown since his sophomore year by running 3:53.43 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, to break Jim Ryun’s 36-year old National H.S. Record in the Mile (3:55.3).

Competing against a world-class field that included World Record holder Hicham El Guerrouj (who would set a U.S. All-Comers Outdoor Record of 3:49.92), Webb patiently ran his own race and didn’t get caught up in the incredibly exciting atmosphere that permeated Hayward Field, a fitting setting for such a historic day.

Running well off the pace of the rabbits and the lead pack, Webb went through splits of 58.1, 1:57.9, and 2:58.4 and then clicked into another gear. The crowd virtually ignored the great El Guerrouj, who was pulling away from Bernard Lagat and the rest of the field, and devoted all of its energy to Webb. Webb rewarded the faithful with a great 55-second last 1/4 to finish off his record run. On the way, he also took down another Ryun record, clocking 3:38.26 at 1500 meters.

El Guerrouj, a sports student who knew full well the impact of Webb’s run, grabbed his new friend by the arm, and they went on a joint victory lap, much to the delight of the adoring Eugene fans. Soaking up his new-found fame, the fun-loving Webb gladly signed autographs for at least an hour after the meet had ended.

The ensuing media blitz hadn’t been seen in the sport for long. Webb’s run was reported on the front pages of newspapers all across the country (including the NY Times), and he eventually made appearances on the morning talk shows and met with President Bush at the White House. He also had a memorable guest shot on Late Night With David Letterman, who couldn’t stop gushing about Webb’s accomplishment. And Webb handled all the attention with the poise and style of a seasoned veteran.

The speculation about Webb’s potential started to build after he ran 4:06.94 in 1999 to break Ryun’s National H.S. sophomore record. It continued the following year when he ran a 3:59.9 anchor 1600 meters at the Penn Relays, but an injury kept him from any serious efforts to break 4 minutes the rest of the season(he had to turn down an invitation to the 2000 Pre meet). An early sign in his senior year that everything was going according to plan came at NY City’s Armory in January, when he set a H.S. indoor record of 3:59.86 and became the first prep 4-minute miler since Marty Liquori ran 3:59.8 in 1967.

Webb, who set an American Record of 3:46.91 for the Mile in 2007, competed in the first round of the 1500 meters at the 2004 Olympics and was a finalist in the 1500 meters at the 2005(9th) and 2007(8th) World Championships.

RELATED LINKS:

Pre-Race

How it Happened: https://runteamwebb.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/history-lesson-how-a-353-became-reality/

NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/28/sports/track-and-field-running-s-boy-wonder-breaks-ryun-s-scholastic-record.html

Videohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niCWRb29y-E

The Alan Webb Story(Video):

https://www.usatf.tv/gprofile.php?mgroup_id=45365&do=videos&video_id=106500-The-Alan-Webb-Story-USATF-tv

Full Resultshttp://www.flashresults.com/2001_Meets/outdoor/pre/pre.htm

Dyestat Talks to the Four Sub-4 Preps(Ryun, Danielson, Liquori, Webb):

http://archive.dyestat.com/news/xc2003/12-December%202003/12Fab4Talk.htm

T&F News Covers(March, August) https://trackandfieldnews.com/tfn-covers-2001/

Jim Ryun: http://tinyurl.com/c8xkw

Runner’s World(Subscription required?):

http://www.runnersworld.com/elite-runners/chat-alan-webbs-amazing-35343-high-school-mile

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