Fly Fishing Olympian Heads to London
July 22, 2012
Ryan Hall hasn't been getting much fly fishing in while preparing for the 2012 Summer Olympics
America will be watching Ryan Hall of Redding, California, when he runs the marathon in the 2012 London Summer Olympics. In the 2011 Boston Marathon Hall finished in fourth place but with a time of 2:04:58, it was the fastest marathon time ever recorded by an American. Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai won the event, breaking the world record by 57 seconds, and he credited Hall with setting a fast early pace to set up the record time. At the London Olympics, Hall will be America's best chance at a marathon medal since Meb Keflezighi (an immigrant from Eritrea) won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics.
When Hall isn't logging miles of running to compete as an Olympian, he's an avid fly fishing olympian. Here's an exclusive interview between Hall and Fly Fisherman editor Ross Purnell:
RP: How did you get started fly fishing and how did it affect your life?
RH: I started fly fishing in Mammoth Lakes, California, when I was in college. We used to go up to Mammoth in the summers for training and vacation. I remember hooking up on my first session. I have been hooked ever since. Fly fishing is one of my favorite hobbies.
RP:Does your wife Sara ever go fly fishing with you?
RH:Hah, not really. She hates fishing but sometimes she will come along just to keep me company and to enjoy some of the scenic places that I get to fish. Her whole family is made up of avid fly fishers, so their family vacations were always fly-fishing trips which she could never get into. She swore she would never marry a someone who liked fly fishing, but some how I still won her over.
RP:Do you ever mix in fly fishing when traveling for race events?
RH: Not typically. I would love to do some more fly-fishing trips because when I am racing I am pretty dialed in on preparing for the race, which entails a lot of time lying around in hotel rooms. Also, most of my races are in major cities which aren't really known for fly fishing. I have yet to make it out to Idaho, Montana, or Alaska but they are high on my bucket list.
RP:Has your training for the upcoming London Olympics eclipsed any opportunities for fly fishing, or can you still work in some relaxation time on "easy" training days?
RH:I have actually had some of my best fly-fishing experiences while training for the Olympics. I usually take one day a week completely off when I pretend like I am not a runner. I don't even wear my watch on these days so these days usually have a short fly-fishing trip on the upper or lower Sacramento River. I've both landed and lost the biggest trout of my life. It has been really fun just starting to learn some of the epic waters around Redding. I plan on spending a lot of time experiencing the amazing fishing in the Redding area.
RP:You live near Redding, California in one of the country's best fly-fishing areas. What is your favorite river and why?
RH: Well, I haven't done a ton of exploring yet. I've yet to check out the Trinity River, which I hear is going to be epic about the time I am in London preparing for the Games but I've really enjoyed fishing the Sacramento River, especially the upper Sac. Its so beautiful up on the upper Sac that even when I don't hook up I still just have a great time being outside.
RP:Norman Maclean wrote, "In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing." How do you relate to that?
RH: I can totally relate to that. I find that some of my most intimate moments with God are when I am outside doing what He created me to do, whether it be running a 2:04 marathon or when I am out on the river all alone tracking a giant trout.
RP:After the Olympics, how to you plan on unwinding?
RH:Well, I wish I could say I would be going to Alaska on a fly-fishing trip but unfortunately I think my wife wouldn't enjoy that as much as I would. We are planning on touring through Europe a bit before heading back to the States and I begin my preparations for the 2012 ING NYC Marathon. Hopefully I'll have a couple of days in Redding to hit the water before I start into serious training.
To see stats and other information about Ryan Hall see the the USA Track and Field web site. Hall is sponsored by Nissan and will be posting daily updates of his training and from the Olympics, on the Nissan Innovation for Endurance Facebook page. For More on Hall see the feature story at redding.com or see the fly-fishing video featuring Hall, The Story of the Orange, below.