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5 Things You Should Know About Me: Ryan Vail

September 05, 2013 at 11:00am EST | by Barbara Huebner, NYRR News Service

5 Things You Should Know About Me: Ryan Vail

Persuaded that he would meet with more success on a cross-country course than he would on a football field, Ryan Vail became a standout runner for Centennial High School in Gresham, OR, before heading to Oklahoma State University. There, he led the Cowboys to the 2009 NCAA cross-country title and met his future wife, teammate Eva Tomankova; after graduation they headed to her native Czech Republic so that she could attend graduate school in Prague. Upon their return to the United States 18 months later, Vail made his marathon debut at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, where he finished 11th in 2:12:43. He improved his personal best to 2:11:45 later that year in Fukuoka. So far, 2013 has been a stellar year for the 27-year-old, who placed third in the 15K U.S. championships and helped the United States to its first IAAF World Cross Country silver medal since 1984 before notching a 10,000-meter personal best of 27:44:05 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational—still the third-fastest time by an American this year. And that’s not to mention starring in his first film. He’s hoping for good reviews in his ING New York City Marathon debut on November 3.

  1. I work 10 to 20 hours a week at FitRightNW, a running-shoe store. When Bryan Tosh worked there, he approached me about making a short documentary about my running. At first “PreVail” ( was just meant to be for a project for his class at Portland State, but it kind of blew up a little bit. Last week it was part of the Portland Film Festival. The first film in my category was from Syria, about the destruction in Aleppo, and now I was going to follow talking about how hard life is as a professional runner. I thought, “My video does not belong here.” I was relieved when the rest were more like mine.
  2. The proudest moment of my career was winning the NCAA cross country team title because my whole college career was about that one goal, ever since we talked about it on my recruiting trip. It’s followed closely by the World Cross Country silver. Bobby Mack and I were running together and when someone on the course yelled that we could get a medal, we were honestly too afraid to try to move up. But we actually picked up maybe five or 10 spots over the last two laps.
  3. It’s been interesting to write a blog ( on my training for New York. I’d like to see other athletes do it. It’s good to show people that we’re doing the same thing you guys are, just more of it because we have more time. There’s no secret recipe.
  4. While living in the Czech Republic, I learned how to make a creative and nutritious food that is  perfect for marathon training: rabbit sausage. My wife’s family raises rabbits, and her father taught me each step involved, from the cage to the table.
  5. My wife and I love to travel out of the country. After Fukuoka, we visited Vietnam and Cambodia. We went to Peru on our honeymoon, and we’ve been to Morocco and New Zealand. Two days after I run in New York, we’re headed to Patagonia. It makes those last miles easier to think, “just get through this and you’ll soon be sitting on a beach.”
Categories: 5 Things, Marathon News

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