- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 29, 2002

Alan Webb ran his first track race as a professional yesterday at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex in Landover.
To be fair, it was a low-key time trial, an exhibition 1,000-meter race set in the middle of a high school invitational.
"This is the first time I have put spikes on since the NCAAs [in June]," said the rusty Webb, after finishing his event at the two-day Metro Run & Walk Holiday Invitational. "Not bad, but I was really hoping for a PR."
It was close, but Webb looked like a guy who hasn't been doing much speed work, a fact that he and his coach Scott Raczko confirmed.
"We just wanted to get a time trial before altitude," said Raczko, who has worked for Metro Run & Walk for the past few years. "We're leaving for Albuquerque tomorrow for 3 weeks."
Webb lined up on the fast 200-meter track with former South Lakes High (Reston, Va.) teammate and designated rabbit Richard Smith while Raczko paced the infield. It was just the two of them, but it represented two of America's greatest middle-distance prospects.
At 2:15 p.m., the gun sounded and Smith and Webb dashed off. Smith took Webb through a relaxed opening 200 meters in 29.16, then they went to work, cruising through 400 meters in 57.67.
Unfortunately, the fieldhouse full of prep runners did not recognize history's greatest high school miler, so the cheering and vocal encouragement was limited mostly to the South Lakes fans.
Smith bolted away from Webb after 500 meters, then dropped out as Webb passed 600 in 1:25.41. He ran solo to the finish, passing 800 in 1:54.40 and finishing in 2:23.88.
His PR, which he set last year as the high school national record, is 2:23.68. To put the accomplishment into perspective, the American indoor record is 2:17.85, while the world mark is 2:14.96.
Webb signed a multi-year contract with Nike some six months ago, securing his future to train for the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
"I was eager to get in a race, but I was disappointed that I couldn't go any faster in the last 60 meters," said Webb, adding that "we wanted to keep this meet low-key so nobody knew about it. But by summertime, I want to be in shape to run with the best in the world."
He said his first big meet would be the U.S. Nationals in June. Then Webb was quickly off to warm down outside.
There was evidence, however, that Webb had passed through town: the tell-tale sign was the number of Nike backpacks toted around the indoor track facility by prep hopefuls that had "Alan Webb" signatures on them.
He's back on track
John Capel, 2000 Olympic finalist and No.6 all-time U.S. sprinter in the 200 meters, said he will return to track in 2003 after a stint as a wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Capel won the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials in a bizarre 200-meter race in which both Maurice Greene and Michael Johnson failed to finish. His personal best of 19.85 seconds made Capel the 10th fastest person ever at the distance.
The former University of Florida football and track star was drafted as a college junior by the Chiefs in 2001, then signed a three-year contract with Kansas City on Feb. 11, 2002.
Capel is better off on the track, as long-time world-class hurdler and short-time 49ers wide receiver Renaldo Nehemiah once discovered.

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