i really like ryan hall.
he could well be one of the most intriguing figures on the elite marathoning scene. as well as one of the most polarizing.
he's truly an affable guy - watch any video interviews with him and he comes across as the kid from high school who could get along with just about anybody. his wife sara is a gem too, good-natured to the core. and together they have been the driving force behind the hall steps foundation which is focused on responding to the issue of global poverty.
he's a rebel, march-to-the-beat-of-my-own-drummer kind of athlete. while he's worked with terrence mahon, renato canova and even the iconic jack daniels he seems to regularly prefer being self-coached and gauging his workouts and development by feel (or 'faith' as he would describe it).
and of course he's an outstanding talent - from posting the fastest ever debut marathon time for an american (2:08:24) to the fastest ever american marathon time at the 2011 boston marathon (2:04:58), the guy has shown that he can step up to the plate against any runner from any country or continent.
so what's his deal?
since the record setting boston marathon achievement, he's woven in a series of DNSs (did not start) and DNFs (did not finish) that have left his fans and colleagues scratching their collective heads. the 2012 olympic marathon. the 2012 new york city marathon. the 2013 boston and nyc marathons. and just yesterday, the 2015 LA marathon. granted, there were various mitigating circumstances (most notably injuries) that contributed to this spotty record, but for anyone interested in seeing again just what ryan is capable of achieving this has been a barrage of disappointing blows.
were his accomplishments in the early part of this millennium just a bunch of flukes, as some have suggested?
is his body just too way injury-prone to produce any more world-class results? one of the things that i did notice from the start of sunday's LA marathon was that ryan's trademark low-and-at-the-side arm carriage seems to have changed a bit to swing higher and a little more across his body. i'm not sure if that's an attempt at compensation for other physiological stressors.
could his approach to training and racing be so off-the-wall that it's actually double-crossing him?
i don't know. i wish i did. i wish he did.
but after all's said and done, i still like ryan hall.
and i really hope to see him excel again.