Hall, Kastor lead Rock 'n' Roll Marathon field - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Hall, Kastor lead Rock 'n' Roll Marathon field

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Posted: Friday, January 15, 2010 2:03 pm | Updated: 3:35 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Ryan Hall may not set another record Sunday, but considering the attention he continues to receive due to his running prowess, he never considers himself a failure.

Ryan Hall may not set another record Sunday, but considering the attention he continues to receive due to his running prowess, he never considers himself a failure.

Hall is set to compete in the half marathon race as part of the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon and Half Marathon event.

The California native will make his Arizona debut and would love to break his own American record of 59 minutes, 43 seconds in the 13.1-mile race. But if he falls short, at least many local people will have heard his name and possibly felt his message.

"I always swing for the fences, so setting the record would not be surprising," Hall said Friday night while attending a function in Scottsdale. "But considering where I am in my training, it would be unexpected.

"But for me, for us (including his wife Sara), sometimes the ultimate goal is to get our message out."

The Hall's message is clear: lend a hand.

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The Hall Steps Foundation was formed to help disadvantaged children in the U.S., and eventually, throughout the world. And Ryan feels the more he runs, and the better his results, the more the foundation will creep into the limelight.

"Do you think there would be a LIVESTRONG brand right now if Lance Armstrong never won a Tour de France?" Ryan asked. "My success definitely gives us a platform. We're trying to show people that we all have been given gifts, and if we could just share those gifts we could end many of these that are wrong right now."

Sara, who is also a professional middle distance runner, put the bug in Ryan's ear about starting a charitable foundation while they were both attending Stanford. Since that time Ryan's career has skyrocketed, culminating in a win at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and a 10th-place finish at the Beijing Olympics.

The local event is scheduled to draw more than 32,000 participants in the largest same-day marathon and half marathon in the U.S. At least 20,000 of those runners will tackle the half marathon course, and the 27-year-old Ryan is more than happy to lead the way.

"I want to show people that running for a cause can give you the greatest sense of fullness," said Ryan, who along with Sara were named the 2009 Visa Humanitarian of the Year by USA Track.

"I'm not kidding when I say I feel connected to each runner out there. Just like running is a lifestyle, so too is taking that approach to life that we can all help each other. It takes one step at a time."

For Hall, sometimes the biggest problem he has is saying, "no." He said it can be difficult to find the balance in his life between his professional running career and further expanding the foundation.

"I know that they feed off each other, but my career is what established the charity," Ryan said. "There are times when I have to decide whether taking a nap or a conference call is the best thing. But to do what we are able to do ... it's the most rewarding feeling you can imagine."

Joining Hall on the streets of Phoenix and Tempe on Sunday will be Deena Kastor, who holds the female American record in the half marathon at 1 hour, seven minutes, 34 seconds. She set the mark in 2006 and earned a bronze medal in the marathon at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Kastor, who trains with Hall in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., is focusing on the London Marathon in April. The women's half marathon race record is 1:15.06, set in 2005 by Japan's Miho Ichikawa.

The two Americans are the highest profile runners the local event has secured since Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia set a then-world record in the half marathon (58:55) in 2006.

"Having both Deena and Ryan running in the same event is a real coup for Arizona," said veteran broadcaster and running historian Toni Reavis. "They represent the best the sport has to offer both on and off the roads."

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