USA's latest distance running star Ryan Hall has chosen London as the venue for his first ever marathon.
Little more than a week after smashing the North American half marathon record at the USA championships, the 24-year-old Californian is the latest star name to sign up for the 2007 men's Flora London Marathon on Sunday 22 April when he will line up alongside the legendary Haile Gebrselassie, the world record holder Paul Tergat, the world champion Jaouad Gharib, and the Olympic champion Stefano Baldini.
Hall became the first North American ever to run the half marathon in under an hour when he won the Aramco Houston Half Marathon on 14 January in 59:43, beating the 21-year-old record by 72 seconds. He also defeated the Olympic marathon silver medallist Meb Keflezighi, and is now the 13th fastest half marathon runner of all time.
Afterwards Hall announced that he was looking to make his marathon debut in the spring to gain experience ahead of the US Olympic marathon trials to be held as part of the ING New York City Marathon in November.
�"We are delighted that Ryan has chosen the Flora London Marathon to make his debut at the distance," said race director David Bedford.
�"Ryan has shown that he is a very exciting talent in superb form and he will be a valuable addition to the illustrious elite field we earlier in January."
�"It's going to be really hard and I'm expecting it to be more challenging than anything I've ever done," said Hall of his first marathon experience. �"I'm just going to go out there and stick my nose in it."
Hall has been in highly impressive form recently. He set a US record of 57:54 for 20km when he finished 11th at the IAAF World Road Running Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, in October 2006, and in February he will defend the US 12km cross country title which he won last year by 27 seconds.
Hall was the US college champion at 5,000m in 2005 and won a place on the USA team for the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki that year by finishing third at the national championships. He was a US high school mile champion while at school in Big Bear, California, and ran the third fastest ever 1500m by a US high school student.
As well as chasing prize money and record bonuses totalling more than $250,000, the competitors in this year's race will also by fighting for points towards the World Marathon Majors (WMM) series. The other WMM races this year are the Boston Marathon (April 16), the real,- Berlin Marathon (September 30), the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon (October 7), and the ING New York City Marathon (November 4), plus the IAAF World Championships marathon races on Osaka (August 25 for men and September 2 for women).
Flora London Marathon 2007
Elite men, Fastest times
Paul Tergat (KEN), 2:04:55
Khalid Khannouchi (USA), 2:05:38
Haile Gebrselassie (ETH), 2:05:56
Felix Limo (KEN), 2:06:14
Martin Lel (KEN), 2:06:41
Hendrick Ramaala (RSA), 2:06:55
Jaouad Gharib (MAR), 2:07:02
Stefano Baldini (ITA), 2:07:22
Benson Cherono (KEN), 2:07:58
Hicham Chat (MAR), 2:07:59
Marilson Gomes dos Santos (BRA), 2:08:48
Jon Brown (GBR), 2:09:31
Meb Keflezighi (USA), 2:09:53
Ryan Hall (USA), Debut
Juan Carlos De la Ossa (ESP), Debut