Lone American Ryan Vail Aiming For Big PB In Berlin

Race Results Weekly Vail_Ryan_Berlin_2017_Pre-Race_David_Monti.jpg
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2017 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

WATCH THE 2017 BERLIN MARATHON LIVE ON FLOTRACK
In Select Countries

BERLIN (21-Sep) -- While Kenenisa Bekele, Eliud Kipchoge and Wilson Kipsang battle each other for the world record at the front of Sunday's BMW Berlin Marathon here, Ryan Vail of Portland, Ore., will running several minutes behind waging his own personal battle against the clock.

Vail, the lone American man in the elite field here, is trying to re-start his marathon career after a series of injuries kept him off the field of play for half of 2015 and most of 2016. The Brooks-sponsored athlete hasn't completed a marathon since November, 2014, when he finished ninth (first American) at the TCS New York City Marathon. It's been a frustrating period for the 31 year-old athlete who ran for Oklahoma State during his NCAA career.

"Starting in 2015 right after the U.S. 10-K Champs I had a navicular stress fracture or stress reaction, we're not exactly sure, to a stress fracture in my opposite sacrum and right femur," Vail told Race Results Weekly in an interview in the press center here. "That was almost a year and a half of getting a little bit fit, getting hurt, getting a little bit fit, getting hurt."

Vail, who emphasizes road running and cross country in his competition choices, had finished fifth on the track in the 10,000m at the USA Track and Field Championships in June, 2015, the trials meet for the IAAF World Championships. When he walked off of the track, he had no idea that he would not put on a race number again for another 16 months when he finally lined up at the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon. Frustratingly, the 2:10:57 marathoner was forced to drop out.

Vail's injury woes continued into 2017 when he was struck by a torn plantaris muscle last winter which caused him to abandon his spring racing plans, including the always competitive USA 15-K Championships at the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Fla.

"It only took me out for a couple of weeks, but made me miss Gate River and the NACAC Cross Country Champs," Vail lamented. "So, I didn't get to meet my goal which was to race a lot this spring, and just kind of get back into it mentally."

But since that setback, Vail has enjoyed consistent training. He placed ninth at the USA 10-K road running championships at the AJC Peachtree Road Race last July with a respectable time of 29:06. He knew then and there that he was ready to try another marathon, and Berlin was his first choice.

"I decided, actually, immediately after Peachtree," Vail explained. "It was a pretty quick turnaround. That was 11 weeks from the race coming this weekend. I was still debating something like Frankfurt with the Flagstaff guys (Hoka Northern Arizona Elite team who are running there), or Berlin, which seemed a little bit close, but the conditions are always great. I just wanted to take out all the variables and just have a solid performance."

Vail hopes to better his previous best from the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2014 where, despite running the final third of the race alone, he still managed to run sub-2:11 in windy conditions. Here, he is hoping that a group will form for a 65:30 first half, which would line up well with his current fitness and goals. He's not looking to knock it out of the park, but rather lay down a credible mark he can build on for the 2020 USA Olympic Trials Marathon.

"Just get back on the right track for 2020," Vail said. "It doesn't need to be an outstanding performance, but something to put one foot forward at this point."

Vail began his Berlin training block alone in the southern Czech Republic during July while vising his wife Eva's family. After returning to the States, he joined up with Canadian Olympian Cam Levins back in Portland, another athlete who was coming back from injury.

"When I got back I was actually able to hook up with Cam Levins in Portland for my last five weeks of training," Vail revealed. "That was all just in my usual neighborhood and territory."

Vail got up to 130 miles per week (210 km). Although below some of his previous totals during marathon training, it still more than adequate for running a good race here. He took one day off a week, and averaged 20 miles a day for the days he did run. His longest long-run was over 25 miles (40 km), he said, on difficult terrain.

Interestingly, this will not be Vail's first time running here in Berlin. In 2014, he paced Shalane Flanagan as she tried to run an American record (she ran 2:21:14). Vail ran nearly the whole course, going past 40 km, so he knows it well. He likes the emphasis on details here which can potentially shave valuable seconds from his time.

"They just do everything they can to make it fast," Vail said. "The pacing cars are in front of you. For some of the athletes, they are handing the water bottles out to you. They have so many different pace groups I knew I could slide into one of them no matter what my fitness was like."

At the athletes' hotel, Vail feels the excitement of the world record attempt, but has to stay focused on his own race and remember why he's here. As a fan of the sport, he knows he'll be missing something special, at least while it's happening.

"It's almost disappointing that I won't get to see how that plays out until later because I know it's going to be fantastic," he said.

Remember to tune in this Sunday to watch the action live on FloTrack if you live in one of these countries!

Human, Or Super Saiyan? Grant Holloway Keeps The World Wondering

Florida Athletics Grant Holloway.jpg

By Zach Dirlam

Area code 757, tattooed on Holloway’s left wrist, services the southeastern-most portions of Virginia, covering the Virginia Peninsula, Eastern Shore and Hampton Roads.

Big 12 Preview: Divine Oduduru's Coming Out Party, NCAA Record Chase In HJ

http://texastech.com Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 6.28.03 PM.png

The Big 12 is one of the most well-rounded conferences in the NCAA, with solid sprint matchups, distance races, and even a potential high jump collegiate record battle set to go down in Ames, Iowa, this weekend at Iowa State's 300-meter track. Read on for a rundown of the top events to watch.

14 Athletes Set To Represent Canada At 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Untitled design (6).png

Feb. 14 release courtesy of Athletics Canada:

House Of Run Podcast: Coleman, Nelvis, Brazier Show Out

© Nick Fojud-USA TODAY Sports USATSI_10637940_168383134_lowres.jpg

On this week's episode of the House of Run Jason and Kevin discuss Christian Coleman's world record, Sharika Nelvis's American record, the doubles by Shelby Houlihan and Paul Chelimo and all the other action from the 2018 US Indoor Championships.

Star-Studded 3K, 60mH Tiebraker Headline 2018 MPSF Indoor Championships

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Track and Field: Pac-12 Championships

By Taylor Dutch

Powerhouse teams from the Pac-12 and West Coast Conferences come together this weekend to compete at the 2018 MPSF Indoor Track and Field Championships, which you can catch LIVE on FloTrack.

Teahna Daniels Set To Extend Texas Sprints' Legacy At Big 12s

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Track and Field: 90th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays

By Lincoln Shryack

Texas sprinter Teahna Daniels wasted no time in becoming the fastest woman in Big 12 history. Less than two months into her NCAA career, back in 2016, Daniels won the 60m NCAA crown in 7.11 — the fastest ever by a freshman and then the fourth-best performance in collegiate history. She hadn’t even won a Big 12 title yet, but it was clear that the Longhorn freshman would soon dominate the conference.

The Best Races From The 2017 Big 12 Indoor Championships

© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports USATSI_9899787_168383134_lowres.jpg

This weekend Ames, Iowa, will play host to the 2018 Big 12 Championship. Like 2017, FloTrack will have live coverage of the meet as teams chase a conference championship and qualifying marks to the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships. 

On The Run: NCAA Mile Champion Josh Kerr | Ep. 75

Kirby Lee USATSI_9935150_168383134_lowres.jpg

NCAA mile and 1500m champion Josh Kerr of New Mexico joins Jojo and Kevin to discuss his approach to this weekend’s Mountain West Conference Championships, how his life has changed since he finished second at the Millrose Games, beating Edward Cheserek in the mile, following the collegiate scene growing up in Scotland, and choosing to attend New Mexico before he even visited the school. 

Cas Loxsom On Depression And The Realities Of Chasing The Running Dream

Anthony Alvarez cas loxsom

We caught up with Cas Loxsom at this past weekend's USATF Indoor Championships in Albuquerque after the American indoor record holder dropped out of his race. 

Josh Kerr, Ednah Kurgat Highlight Mountain West Championships

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports USATSI_10111911_168383134_lowres.jpg

Some of the nation’s top distance runners will be action during the distance medley relay at the Mountain West Conference Championships. Ednah Kurgat, Allie Ostrander, Dillon Maggard, and Josh Kerr are all expected to play pivotal roles in their team’s chances on Thursday night. Outside of the distance medley relay, the four are expected to be in action throughout the three day meet which you can watch live on FloTrack.