Ryan Hall

Ryan Hall returns to marathon racing in Boston, by way of Ethiopia

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BOSTON — The fastest U.S. marathon runner ever,* missing from 26.2-mile competition for nearly two years, his future questioned, found himself at a place called Yaya Village last month.

Ryan Hall trained for the Boston Marathon, essentially his comeback race, “buried in the sticks” in the Ethiopian countryside.

“A running monastery, very tranquil, very peaceful,” Hall said. “And the hardest training I’ve ever done in my life.”

Hall is arguably the top U.S. men’s hope in Monday’s race, his first Boston Marathon since he finished fourth in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 58 seconds in 2011, the fastest marathon ever by an American. The time does not count as an official American record, though, because of Boston’s point-to-point, downhill course.

Hall then took second at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January 2012 to earn a trip to London. He hasn’t finished a marathon since. If that month in Ethiopia was the hardest training in his life, the two years prior may have been the most trying.

He dropped out of the 2012 Olympic marathon near mile 11 with a right hamstring injury.

“I’ve never DNF’d a race before, so this is a first for me,” Hall said in London. “Not finishing a race is not an option unless I think I’m going to do serious damage to my career.”

Hall withdrew from the 2012 New York City Marathon, before Hurricane Sandy canceled it, due to injuries that included plantar fasciitis and tightness in his legs.

Hall withdrew from the 2013 Boston Marathon due to a quadriceps strain.

Hall withdrew from the 2013 New York City Marathon due to a hip injury.

Hall came out of the stretch the better for it, calling it the best two years of his career, though he doesn’t want to relive it.

“I feel like I’m kind of failing my way to the top,” Hall, 31, said. “I see it as part of the process. I wouldn’t trade from 2012 to now. I don’t think I would have gotten to where I’m going to get to if I hadn’t gone through those two years. I’m grateful for them.”

Boston Marathon: The Boylston Street pre-race scene

Hall said he started up again “from ground zero” in December, after health issues cut short a training trip to Kenya in the fall.

The climb took him 9,000 feet above sea level in March to Yaya Village, a resort seven miles north of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. His wife, fellow runner Sara Hall, visited Ethiopia last fall and raved about it. They went to Yaya together in March.

Yaya was founded in 2009 by a group that included marathon legend Haile Gebreselassie and bills itself as “a runners paradise above the clouds.”

Hall saw something different. An image burned in his brain from his month in Ethiopia was of women his grandmother’s age carrying loads of firewood up the same mountain on which he trained.

Hall said a local coach told him the women trek 30km. He estimated they’d earn about $5 U.S. Dollars for their journey.

“I’ll never forget the look in their eyes when you drive past,” Hall said. “The best image I’ve seen of what true strength is. It wasn’t like the Hollywood glamour type strength. It was like I’m going to make this no matter what.”

That rolled into Hall’s learning experience there, both mental and physical. He got an up-close view of an Ethiopian’s way of life. An East African has won every Boston Marathon since 2002 and all but one since 1991.

“They’re accustomed to suffering,” Hall said. “That’s what makes them so good.”

His training runs included going downhill for 10km and then uphill for 20km. He ate injera and drank macchiatos.

“I’ve never seen so much growth in my training in such a short time,” Hall said. “It makes you tough as nails.”

Home in Flagstaff, Hall prepared for Boston on a special treadmill that mimics Boston’s hilly course, rising and falling with accompanying video. He flew into Boston on Thursday, sat at a table near the finish line at a Copley Plaza hotel on Friday and made two short statements two years in the making.

“I’m feeling great,” he said. “Ready to go.”

Boston Marathon: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview | TV, Race Schedules

2020 Tokyo Olympics: A look at rising costs

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - SEPTEMBER 07:  International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge pulls out the name of the city of Tokyo elected to host the 2020 Summer Olympics during a session of the IOC in Buenos Aires, on September 7, 2013.   (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini /Pool/Getty Images)
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TOKYO (AP) — An expert panel set up by Tokyo’s newly elected governor says the price tag of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics could exceed $30 billion unless drastic cost-cutting measures are taken. That’s more than a four-fold increase from the initial estimate at the time Tokyo was awarded the games in 2013.

Following is a breakdown of the panel’s projected costs by category. Original bid estimates have been included when available.

NATIONAL STADIUM

The building of the new national stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies and track and field, has been plagued by a series of problems. An earlier design by the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid had risen to $2.65 billion, more than twice the original forecast. The Japanese government decided to scrap that plan and, on Friday, approved a new stadium project totaling nearly $1.5 billion. Officials say construction will begin in December and be completed by November 2019.

OLYMPIC VILLAGE

Located on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay, the panel estimates the cost at $954 million. The village is being built by a private consortium and will be rented during the games. The plan is to transform the village into a residential area after the games.

TEMPORARY VENUES

Organizers plan to build seven temporary venues for sports such as beach volleyball, triathlon and gymnastics. In July, the organizing committee acknowledged the cost of building those venues had surged to an estimated $2.6 billion, up from an initial estimate of $800 million.

PERMANENT VENUES

Tokyo plans to build seven new permanent venues to go along with 19 existing venues. The panel estimates the cost of the seven new permanent facilities at $2.24 billion. However, it has proposed using existing facilities for three sports – volleyball, swimming, rowing and canoe sprint – instead of building new permanent venues. The canoeing venue could move to Tome City in Miyagi prefecture, about 440 kilometers (270 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

“SOFT” COSTS (security, transportation, operating fees, etc.)

Based on estimates from the 2012 London Olympics, the panel suggests these costs could be as much as $16 billion, including $2 billion for transportation, $3 billion for security, $6 billion for energy and technology, and $5 billion for operating costs.

OTHER

The breakdown does not take into consideration unforeseen costs. The panel said these could arise from earthquake prevention measures and the possibility that additional venues may be moved outside of Tokyo, increasing transportation and security costs. Tokyo organizers are also looking at measures to counter the extreme heat in Tokyo and the panel took those potential costs into consideration when it came up with the estimate of $30 billion.

TOTAL COST:

Bid estimate: $7.3 billion.

Panel estimate: $30 billion.

MORE: Tokyo Olympics costs could top $30 billion, experts warn

WADA releases list of prohibited substances

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND - APRIL 18 : Craig Reedie WADA President speaks to delegates at the IWGA Council meeting during the second day of the SportAccord Convention at the SwissTech Convention Centre on April 18, 2016 in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
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MONTREAL (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency has released its 2017 list of prohibited substances for athletes, adding a drug used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and eating disorders to its catalog of banned stimulants.

The substance, known chemically as lisdexamfetamine, is part of a family of drugs that stimulate the central nervous system.

Other substances used to treat ADHD, including methylphenidate, were already on WADA’s prohibited list as specified stimulants, meaning they can’t be used by athletes without a prior therapeutic use exemption.

Nicomorphine, an opioid analgesic drug available in parts of Europe and which is converted to morphine following administration, was added to the list of banned narcotics.

WADA noted in the list it released early Friday that it was putting Codeine on its monitoring program so that researchers could establish patterns of use for possible performance-enhancement.

“All athletes around the world are held to these standards and there can be no tolerance for people who intentionally break the rules,” WADA President Craig Reedie said in a statement. “Updated annually, the list is released three months ahead of taking effect so that all stakeholders – in particular athletes and their entourage – have ample time to familiarize themselves with the list and its modifications.”

The most-discussed addition in 2016 remained on the prohibited substance list for next year.

Meldonium was added to the list from last Jan. 1 and resulted in a two-year ban for Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, who was among hundreds of athletes who tested positive at the start of the year in results that forced WADA to conduct more research on the substance and extend “no fault findings” to athletes who tested positive for low concentrations of the drug.

Sharapova tested positive for the endurance-boosting drug at the Australian Open in Melbourne in January and is appealing her ban.

The Latvian-made drug was used in parts of eastern Europe to treat heart conditions but was not approved for use in the United States. It increases blood flow, which improves exercise capacity by carrying more oxygen to the muscles. There is significant debate among doping experts over whether meldonium, also known as mildronate, actually enhances performance.

WADA director general Olivier Niggli said the latest list was published after nine months of reviews.

“Experts examine such sources as: scientific and medical research; trends; and, intelligence gathered from law enforcement and pharmaceutical companies in order to stay ahead of those that wish to cheat,” Niggli said. “It is vital that all athletes take the necessary time to consult the list; and that they contact their respective anti-doping organizations if they have any doubts as to the status of a substance or method.”

MORE: False clues make it tough to find WADA hackers