- The Washington Times - Friday, August 7, 2009

American mile record-holder Alan Webb has decided to head to Portland, Ore., to join the training group coached by American distance running legend Alberto Salazar and Jerry Schumacher, according to a source close to the situation.

Webb, 26, has trained in Northern Virginia since his youth. He first appeared on the radar in 1999 by setting the high school national mile record for a sophomore (4:06.94) at South Lakes in Reston.

Ever since, Webb has been coached by Scott Raczko, who successfully guided Webb to the national high school records for the indoor mile (3:59.86), outdoor mile (3:53.43), and outdoor 1,500 meters (3:38.26). Raczko helped Webb break Steve Scott’s 25-year-old American mile record on July 21, 2007, with a time of 3:46.91.

The only time Webb has trained outside of Northern Virginia for an extended period was in 2001 and 2002, when he ran for the University of Michigan after graduating from South Lakes. He returned home to Raczko after his freshman year.

Since then, Webb’s supporters and critics have encouraged him to leave Raczko for a training environment with more support. The Nike-sponsored Webb nearly moved to Portland in 2004 after a short meeting with Phil Knight. The Nike co-founder welcomed Webb to train with the budding Nike Oregon Project, managed by Salazar and surrounded by Nike’s vast resources.

That effort folded, and Salazar is now managing the Nike Portland training group. He brought with him Adam and Kara Goucher, who have had tremendous success under Salazar. Schumacher, a former cross country and track distance coach at Wisconsin, joined the team and brought in Shalane Flanagan, the 2008 Olympic 5,000-meter bronze medalist, and has turned around the career of Matt Tegenkamp, who won the USA Outdoor 5,000-meter crown in June. Dathan Ritzenhein, Webb’s contemporary from the class of 2001, recently joined as well.

Raczko’s role is unclear at this point, according to sources. He could not be reached for comment.

The move comes at a critical time in Webb’s career. His long-term contract with Nike expires soon, and he is in the second year of a slump, failing to qualify for the 2008 Olympics or make the 2009 world championship team.

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