- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 22, 2007

Alan Webb of Reston broke one of American track and field’s most respected records yesterday, running a 3:46.91 mile in a low-key meet in Brasschaat, Belgium.

“I would have taken anything under 3:47,” the 24-year-old Webb said. “Now I can say I am a 3:46 guy.”

Webb broke Steve Scott’s 25-year-old record of 3:47.69, which he set in Oslo on July 7, 1982, about six months before Webb was born.

Webb became the eighth-fastest miler in history, passing Seb Coe, Steve Ovett and John Walker. His time was the 16th-fastest mile of all time.

Brad Yewer, who works for Webb’s agent, Ray Flynn, and was at the Atletiek Vlaanderenmeet yesterday, said the track was hard and fast, with little wind because it is nestled in a forest. He also said there was little seating for fans.

“The race was basically a cool race because the meet itself was low key, so there wasn’t a huge crowd [about 1,000],” said Webb, who graduated from South Lakes High School in 2001. “I felt really, really good. I had two pace-setters, me and two pace-setters from the start. I got right on their tail.”

The pace-setters were Yousef Abdi of Australia and Samson Surrum of Kenya.

Abdi took Webb through the first 440 yards in an unofficial 56.1, and through 880 yards in 1:53.5, a little slower than Webb had planned. Then Surrum took over, running Webb perfectly through 1,320 yards in about 2:49.

That left Webb confident that he had “a great chance” at the record.

He ran the last 440 yards in 56.2.

“It was mesmerizing to watch him unload a last lap like that,” Yewer said.

A pair of impressive performances by Webb set up yesterday’s record mile.

At the USA Outdoor Championships on June 24, Webb bettered Scott’s 25-year-old meet record in the 1,500 with a 3:34.82. Then earlier this month in Paris, Webb ran the fastest 1,500 time ever by an American-born runner with a winning 3:30.54.

“We’ve been talking about it for some time,” Yewer said. “Ray, Alan’s coach Scott Raczko and Alan. Just after Paris, we came to Belgium to train, in Leuven, about an hour from the track. About three or four days after Paris, Alan worked out on this track and we liked it.

“We wanted to race in Rome, but they didn’t have the mile and the meet director didn’t want to switch from the 1,500 meters. You know there are not that many mile races anymore, but the meet in Belgium is a smaller meet and the meet director was willing to work with us.”

The next record, Webb said, is the world record of 3:43.13 set by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj in Rome in 1999.

“It’s been my goal since I was 14,” he said.

Webb has been highly touted since 2001, when he set the national high school record for the indoor mile (3:59.86), outdoor mile (3:53.43) and outdoor 1,500 meters (3:38.26).



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