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American mile record holder Alan Webb prepares to make marathon debut

The man best known for his 3:46.91 mile record is set to run quite a bit farther at the upcoming Grandma's Marathon in Minnesota

Mini documentary "The Alan Webb Story" released. Photo by: Erik van Leeuwen

American mile record holder Alan Webb will be running his marathon debut on June 19 at the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn. Webb, who represented the U.S. in the 1,500m at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, primarily competed in middle-distance events as an elite, and he only raced farther than the mile on a handful of occasions throughout his career. Now retired, he has shifted his focus to longer events on the road, and he will put his fitness to an entirely new test with his upcoming 42.2K race. 

Webb’s career

Webb has been a well-known figure in the world of track and field for 20 years. He burst onto the running scene in 2001 after breaking four minutes in an indoor mile in January of that year (he ran 3:59.86, making him the first high schooler to run a sub-four-minute mile indoors) and then running what is still the American high school mile record of 3:53.43 a few months later at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore. Webb went on to run at the University of Michigan, where he competed for one season before turning pro. 

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As a professional, Webb won three U.S. national crowns (all in the 1,500m), and he competed at multiple world championships. His race at the Athens Games was his only appearance at the Olympics, as he failed to qualify for Beijing in 2008. Webb retired from professional running in 2014, and he now coaches cross-country and track at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. While he is not back to racing as an elite, his marathon debut will still be highly anticipated.  

Jumping up in distance

Webb didn’t race anything farther than 10,000m in his days as an elite, and he only recently made his half-marathon debut. He ran the Great American River Run in Memphis, Tenn., at the end of May, where he laid down a great time of 1:13:20. After that race, he teased a potential marathon debut on Instagram, but didn’t commit to anything. That potential race is now set to become a reality, though, and he’ll line up in Duluth in a matter of days. 

“I can’t believe I am saying this but I am going run a marathon,” he wrote on Instagram. “It’s gonna be awesome!” The race may be 26 times longer than his go-to event from his days as an elite, but Webb has proven he can run well at any distance, and it shouldn’t be a surprise if he ends up crushing his debut over 42.2K. 

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