Hansons-Brooks Distance Project is one of the more interesting American distance running groups to surface in the last ten years. They specialize in taking post-collegiate runners and making them pretty darn good marathoners. Of course, they helped Brian Sell to be an Olympian and took 7 of the top 22 places at Boston in 2006. That they are from my home state and that one of my oldest friends runs for them is just icing on the cake.
On their site they are posting interviews with each of the 6 runners participating at Boston - as well as the two coaches and founders of the group - Kevin and Keith Hanson. The interview with Kevin and Keith Hanson helps to shed some light on why Boston is so special and why group training is so important. The topic of how groups can bring out the best in individuals is so interesting to me that I think it will be the focus of my blog after Boston.
The other interview that interests me is with one of my oldest friends - Todd Snyder. Todd and I were in the same cub scout troop growing up. We eventually got into running at different middle schools in Ann Arbor, MI (my family moved when I was in 4th grade or else we would have been in the same middle school too). In high school we both ran for Pioneer High School. Todd was an okay runner our freshman year - but, as our sophomore year went by he started getting better and better.
We convinced him to train during the next summer (he hadn't done that before). After that, I was lucky to see him at any point after the first 800 meters of a race. He won six individual state titles (XC, indoor, outdoor) - basically unbeaten in races for our high school his last two years. Michigan is a pretty deep running state - Todd had to beat some pretty impressive dudes, including Abdul Alzidani (a year younger than us, but eventual Foot Locker national champ) to win his individual titles.
Todd went on to the University of Michigan - where by his senior year he placed 10th at XC D1 Nationals - an All-American stud. Although his talent is pretty amazing - he is even a better person. We became pretty good friends by our junior year - and except for the period where he dated my sister (don't ask) - we've been good friends ever since. He's just a good all around guy - someone who gives more than he takes - a kind spirit.
Anyways - enough gushing - it sounds like he's in shape to pull a great performance next week. Although he didn't tell me - I heard from other sources that he was in 2:14 shape last fall until he had a stress fracture in his foot that kept him out of Chicago. So, I'm guessing that he got back into similar shape. In their interview - Kevin and Keith seem to be a little secretive about what they think he can do - which sounds promising to me. I talked to him last week and he seems to feel confident in his fitness.
Good luck Todd - and the rest of the Hansons crew!
UPDATE: I just read a Q&A with Brian Sell on the Runners World site - he is pretty high on Todd:
"A guy on our team to watch is Todd Snyder. He's run like 2:20. We just did our simulator run the other day, our 16-miler, and he ran the equivalent of a 2:12. He's definitely fit."
I also liked this quote about Dathan Ritzenhein - "Just looking at him five years ago, I just thought he was this Nike-sponsored punk who did a couple of yoga exercises and ran 30 miles a week and just was so talented that he was able to pull stuff out like that. "