American mile record holder Alan Webb may soon be nearing the end of his track and field career. After being dropped by Nike at the end of the 2013 calendar year, Webb is running unsponsored for the first time in his professional career and will soon turn to the triathlon.
The news was first reported by Runners World Magazine on Wednesday morning. Flotrack site head Alex Lohr heard rumors of the transition at the end of 2013 and hinted at it in the staff’s Predictions for 2014.
“I am serious about triathlon,” Webb confirmed the news to Sports Illustrated’s Tim Layden in a text message. “I am in Arizona working with a USA Triathlon group right now. Something I have always wanted to do since I was a kid. And I am burned out from running.”
Webb’s final track race will be the Wanamaker Mile at the 2014 Millrose Games on February 15.
This past weekend, Webb ran 4:02.81 for the mile at the Washington Husky Opener. He spoke with Flotrack after his race giving perspective into where he is at with his training.
4:02 is far from his American record of 3:46.91 ran in 2007 at Brasschaat. (Classic Flotrack video of the race with Mark Floreani on the call.)
Webb’s rise to fame came in 2001 as a high school standout when he broke Jim Ryun’s high school mile record of 3:53.43. His career would take off and result in four national titles, an Olympic appearance in 2004, an 8th place finish at the 2007 World Championships.
After missing out on the 2008 Olympic team and the 2009 U.S. Championship final due to injury, Webb switched from Scott Raczko and joined Alberto Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project. In recent years, Webb has worked with Jason Vigilante and Jerry Schumacher. His shortcomings continued as he did not make the 2012 Olympic team and did not race at the 2013 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Retiring at the New Balance Track and Field Center’s Armory comes full circle for Webb as he ran his first sub-4 high school mile on that track. While he may not have any Olympic or World Championship medals, expect him to receive a victory lap to celebrate the career of one of America’s greatest middle-distance runners ever.
Update: I reached out to former Sub-4 high school miler and now professional triathlete Lukas Verzbicas about the Alan Webb news.
"He's been considering for a while now. We've even trained together over the last couple months," Verzbicas told Flotrack. "It's a good move for him as he has a swimming background, so that's coming around fast. He sees it as his opportunity to make it to the (Olympic) Games and I believe he has a much better shot as a triathlete."