Alan Webb teleconference excerpts


Jill Geer
Director of Communications
USA Track & Field

USATF on Saturday hosted a teleconference with Alan Webb shortly after he broke the American record in the mile. Below are excerpts from the call. The race can be viewed online at; for more information about Webb's race, see USATF's press release at

Q: Alan, tell us about your race.

A: It was a cool race because the meet itself was very low-key. There wasn't a huge crowd. I felt really, really good. I had two pace-setters. It was basically me and two pace-setters from the start. I just got right on their tails, and one guy went through 800 and another guy through 1200. We were about 2:49 at 1,200 meters. At that point, I gave it everything I had. The chips fell where they were, and here we are.

Q: Were your splits a little slower early on than during your race in Paris?

A: It was a little bit slower than planned. We slowed down the second lap. The second pace-setter kind of fell off a little bit. I was a little worried he wasn't going to be able to go the whole way. I think he might have been hurting a little bit and wanted to be sure he could get through in a decent time. We slowed down the second lap, which is kind of unusual for a world-class 1500 or mile.

The planned pace was 2:48 [for 1200m] but we ended up being about 2:49. That wasn't exactly ideal, but I was confident because I felt really good. It's one of those things you've got to roll with the punches. They did a really good job and obviously I broke the record so I can't complain.

Q: Which meant more, breaking this record or breaking Jim Ryun's record when you were in high school?

A: Definitely this one, mostly because I was shooting for it. This race was set up so I could do this. When I broke Jim Ryun's record I really wasn't sure if I could do it since I had only run 3:59 at that time. My senior year in high school I wasn't trying to run 3:53, I was just working as hard as I could. Obviously it was a goal, the world record has been my goal since I was 14, but it wasn't as planned to go for it that day, whereas this was very planned. I wanted to run under 3:47.59.

Q: What were your thoughts when you hit three-quarters of a mile at 2:49, did you feel good about your chances to break the record?

A: Definitely. I knew I had a little bit left going with a lap to go. I felt I had a really good chance.

Q: At one point did you think you might have to seek out and set up a race of your own in order to break the record?

A: I knew I had to do it at some point this year. This whole spring we were talking to different meets to see who wanted to put on a full mile. Nobody was really cooperating, so we said we'll just set up our own.

Q: What is now at the top of your goal list?

A: That's easy, man. World record - that's the next thing. There's only one more record that I really want, and that's the world record. That may be more of a long-term goal, but it's been the goal my whole life. At this point, my short-term goal is Osaka and to become the best miler in the world, here and now. My next goal is to be the best miler in the world and win worlds.

Q: Was there a 1500 split?

A: I think it was 3:31.5-ish. [For the entire race], I wanted to run under 3:47. Now I can say I'm a 3:46 guy, which is pretty cool.

Q: There were a lot of other American athletes Americans at the meet. Were they cheering you on?

A: That was the coolest part, because the biggest crowd was the 30 Americans who drove up with me. It was athletes cheering on athletes. It was so awesome to have those guys there and it really inspired me to be able to do something like that at an intimate situation where those other athletes got to see it first-hand, right there. They were steps away from me. With 300 to go, all the Americans were stationed right there, so it was so cool.

Q: What does this do for your confidence in Osaka, and what is the difference for you in running a championship race vs. a one-off mile.

A: For Osaka, it gives me confidence because I know I can run fast. I think my race in Paris gave me more confidence for Osaka. Today it was me and a couple of pace-setters, so I was alone out there. It's different when you've got other guys around you. Running a championship race is very different than what I did tonight. It gives me confidence and tells me I'm moving in the right direction, but there's still lots of work to be done. Osaka is a separate thing.

Q: You said you had planned this race out. Did that present any mental challenges to you during the race?

A: Yes and no. It was almost like a positive and a negative. Because it was so planned out and everybody knew about it, that adds a little bit of pressure. But at the same time, if you were there, it was so low-key. It was just me out there, seeing if I could do it. Before the race I thought to myself, hey if I don't do it, then everybody will understand that he went after it tonight and he'll have other opportunities. It's part of being somebody who is one of the best runners in the world. You have to deal with pressure, and obviously I handled it pretty well.

Several questions were posed to Webb's agent, Ray Flynn, a former world-class miler who was in the race the night Scott set the previous American record in 1982:

Q: Ray, tell us about the race.

A: "He ran very even splits the full way. I heard Alan tell you the second pacemaker got off the pace a little bit, but he finished so strongly that it was never in doubt, especially in the last 500.

"He's got a lot more in him. He can run a lot faster than he ran in Paris and he can run faster than he ran tonight. He definitely has a lot more there. He was very impressive, very strong. Everybody who saw the race was impressed.

Q: You've been involved in a lot of great races as an athlete. What was it like watching him tonight?

A: The race reminded me so much of the old races we ran in Koblenz and Oslo. It's a 6-lane track in the woods. It didn't have a lot of spectators, but Alan ran with a lot of power and control and it reminded me so much of the old world-record races that I experienced and was part of when Ovett and Coe were running and they had all these record attempts. Alan really ran with that kind of direction tonight. Everybody who saw it was impressed.

Q: What kind of achievement is this for Alan?

A: It means he's run faster than Sebastian Coe, faster than Steve Ovett, faster than Steve Scott. What else can you say? Alan's only 24 years old. There's a lot left in his career.