Distance runner Ryan Hall announced his retirement from competition on Friday in The New York Times. He cited chronic fatigue and low testosterone levels as the reasons for his retirement. In addition to running the fastest marathon by an American (2:04:58; Boston, 2011), the 33-year-old California native holds the American record in the half marathon (59:43; Houston, Texas, 2007) and fastest debut marathon (2:08:24; London, 2007).
“Up to this point, I always believed my best races were still ahead of me,” Hall told The New York Times. “I’ve explored every issue to get back to the level I’ve been at, and my body is not responding. I realized that it was time to stop striving, to finally be satisfied and decide ‘mission accomplished.’”
After his debut and dominant win at the 2008 Olympic Team Trials Marathon, Hall failed to improve his times. As a result, in 2010, he switched from a physical coach to what he referred to as a “faith-based” training. It seemed to work, for a time: Hall led most of the Boston Marathon in April of 2011, finishing fourth in an American-best time (though not an American record due to the ineligibility of the course). At the 2012 Olympic Team Trials Marathon, he finished second to former Mammoth Track Club teammate Meb Keflezighi, which Hall left in pursuit of alternative coaching.
But the 2012 Trials would prove to be the final highlight of Hall's career. He dropped out of the 2012 Olympic marathon and withdrew from the start of his next three planned races, citing fatigue and injury. He would fade to 20th at the 2014 Boston Marathon in what would be his final marathon finish and drop out of the 2015 Los Angeles Marathon.
Often criticized, including here, for his nontraditional training and racing, Hall told The New York Times that he had many failures in his career but believed that they set him up for success.
“I know what it’s like to fail at the biggest stage, like the Olympics. It’s a bummer, I don’t want to go through it, but I’m not afraid of it. And if you’re not afraid to fail, you’re not afraid to run against the best guys, and you’re not afraid to lose,” Hall said.
Hall’s announcement was met with an outpouring of support from race organizations and athletes on social media.
“Ryan Hall has inspired a whole generation of young American runners in believing they can compete with the world’s best over the marathon distance,” former Olympian and agent Ray Flynn tweeted. “His fearless front running style defines his legacy in our sport.”
In his retirement, Hall told The New York Times that he would focus on his family. With his wife Sara (who’s also a professional distance runner), Hall adopted four Ethiopian sisters in October 2015. They currently live in Redding, California.
Relive Hall's finest race, the 2011 Boston Marathon, below: