Runner’s World reported on their Newswire on Wednesday that Alan Webb is retiring from the track and may be looking to a career in triathlon. Webb, who became a sensation in 2001 when he ran 3:53.43 to break Jim Ryun’s U.S. high school mile record, has not had the glittering running career that performance predicted. He failed to qualify for the final in the 1500 at the 2004 Olympics, revived his career briefly in 2007 when he set a new American mile record of 3:46.91, then came undone at the world championships, finishing 8th in the 1500 final.
I recall watching Webb as a high schooler at the Foot Locker cross-country championships, racing against (and losing to) Dathan Ritzenhein. Ritz has had his own struggles, failing to gain a slot on the US Olympic Marathon Team at the trials in 2012. Webb always seemed to be in a hurry. Maybe it’s a miler thing. He went to college but quit to pursue his professional running career. He made multiple coaching changes, even going back to his high school coach for a spell. He had injuries. He was always trying to “get back.” At the end of 2013, Nike announced they wouldn’t be renewing his shoe contract.
And so, according to his wife Julia, he’s looking at triathlon for 2014.. Apparently, he was an age-group swimmer at South Lakes High School in Reston. What better place for him to start his triathlon career than his home town? Reston Triathlon is a popular event but I just checked the site and registration is still open. The mile swim is in Lake Audubon, a fetid swamp full of goose poop, but that shouldn’t bother him. I’m not sure if he’s much of a biker but with those miler legs I’m sure he could do a great job on the 3 loops. And then there’s the run. 10K on trails in Alan’s back yard. He probably knows that route better than anyone else.
I’ve always been a fan of Alan Webb. Our local running hero, we’d often see him training at South Lakes track. Sure, he’s made mistakes, but he admits that. I’ve read some comments that he’s a sore loser, that when things aren’t working out he always makes a change. Well, maybe it’s time for a change. It’s been 13 years since he broke that high school record, 7 since he set the American mile record. He knows he can’t get back to those days. He just turned 31. He’s a realist, not a dreamer. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can bring to triathlon.