Just last week Ryan Hall announced his retirement from competitive running. Although his athletic prowess has slowly diminished over the past few years due to recurring injuries and chronically low testosterone levels, the running community was caught off guard by the timing. All signs pointed to him running this year’s Olympic Marathon Trials on February 13th, but his body said otherwise. Hall just hasn’t been able to maintain his health, and it’s because of this that he has made the decision to remove himself from the sport.
Ryan Hall at full health is an intimidating athlete. He boasts a personal record over the half marathon of 59 minutes and 43 seconds. Set in 2007, the time still stands as the American Record. The following year he had an absolutely dominating performance at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials where he ran the second half in 1:02:47 separating himself from a second place Dathan Ritzenhein, by more than two minutes. In 2011, he ran the legendary 2:04:58 Boston Marathon singlehandedly with no competitors near him or pacers in front of him; accompanied by only a steady tailwind and a roaring crowd.
Ryan Hall and his wife, Sara, have done and continue to do so much for the sport. The Hall Steps Foundation, which they began together in late 2009, is a clear indicator. As one can find on their website, it’s purpose and mission is to fight global poverty through better health. Overseas the organization has invested $50,000 in micro-loans in East Africa, donated to other small loans organizations, funded the building of multiple wells in Mozambique, donated to the building of hospitals in Kenya and Mozambique, and reconstructed a maternity clinic in Senegal.
The organization is also a key tool in making a difference in the United States through the Hall’s passion for running. The foundation donates to Girls on the Run in Northern Arizona, founded a flagship program in Chicago that began a run/walk mentoring program in the Austin neighborhood, and has sponsored a year’s program of New York Road Runners Young Runners Program in one school of each of New York City’s five boroughs.
Although Ryan Hall is leaving the competitive side of this sport his kind heart, sense of humor, and resilience will continue to permeate and influence this sport. His approach to running was always fearless, his response to defeat was to get back up, and his career was one driven by love and service. There is no doubt he will approach retirement the same way, and will still utilize his gifts to impact all runners, fans, and people that he comes in contact with. To this great runner, not goodbye, but thank you.