Alan King that is.
As you may know, tomorrow is the running of the USA Track & Field Half Marathon National Championships. Among the elite field on the women's side is Shalane Flanagan (10K bronze medalist from Bejing), Kelly Jaske (2009 1/2 marathon runner up) and Terra Moody (5th at the 2008 marathon trials).
On the men's side, we have guys like Brett Vaugh, Josh Rohatinsky, Matt Gabrielson, Belota Asmeron, Luke Watson, Tim Nelson, Josh Moen, Jason Hartman and James Carney. All have won national titles, competed in national championships and/or olympic trials, and -some have even run on world championhip teams.
Also on that list is Montana's very own Alan King. Based on his 2:29 marathon at Cal International in 2007 and his outstanding 1:09 solo 1/2 at the Montana Marathon this past September, Alan was accepted into the elite field for the US Championship race. That's right - he's hanging with the Big Dogs this weekend.
I talked to Alan yesterday at his hotel. He's hungry and ready to go. If everthing goes well, he'll be hitting 5:05 to 5:07 pace and finish in a range of 1:06:30 to 1:07:30. That would be a big PR - but, he's been focusing on this race since late fall and he's getting stronger all the time.
I had the great pleasure and honor of being able to train with Alan for about 18 months before moving from Billings to Plains. Running together as much as we did, you begin to get a great feel for how your "teammate's" form and running rythm. Well - in early December, I went for a run on some backcounry roads with Alan and Nicole Hunt. Nicole and I were doing 45:00 of up-tempo running (comfortably hard effort). We were pretty much in the wheel ruts of these two track jeep trails that went across the prairie lands. Alan was mostly off to the side, running over the praire grass and skipping over sagebrush. At one point I looked over to watch him run and was mesmerized - his form, rythm and posture were completely different than I had rememberd. He now reminded me of the opening scene from the Haile Gebreselassie documentary Endurance, where Haile is zipping along the cow paths in rural Ethiopia. That's when I knew that Alan was at a different level. So, I have great things predicted for Alan at tomorrow's event.
1:07:15 (5:08 pace) and beating Shalane Flanagan (who is gunning for the women's american record of 1:07:34)
For those of you who are interested in checking out Alan's results, the race starts at 6:00 a.m. Montana time (7:00 a.m. in Houstan). The home page for the race is: http://www.chevronhoustonmarathon.com/index.cfm
There is a spectator page that has some options for email/text tracking and suggests that there will be race day links for athlete tracking and online commentary, both in real time. I know that Houston has been an innovator in using technology for pushing out race information - so, I'm hopeful that we'll be able to follow Alan as he races through the streets of Houson tomorrow morning.
If they have any video, Alan will be wearing bib 20021 and will be wearing his white and green RMC (Rocky Mountain College) singlet.
If you read this Alan - good luck - go kick some big dog tail.
The Muddy Buzzard