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Keith and Kevin Hanson on Advancing American Distance Running for 20 Years

“I started running when Kevin was in high school. I’m the younger brother but he likes it when people think we’re twins but actually I’m four years younger…We used to go to road races and we’d travel in his beat-up, old station wagon with a sleeping bag in the back and sleep in the parking lot before the race because that’s how we could afford to get there and run the race. There was a race in East Lansing called the East Lansing State Bank Run, which had the awards at Frank Shorter Sports. It existed in East Lansing at the time. We went in there and we were both like, ‘It would be awesome to have a running shop one day like this.’ That influenced us when I was 13 years old. The passion started at that time. Throughout college and such, we always talked about doing that. We were able to do it coming out of college and that’s how we started our running stores, which led to this.” – Keith Hanson

Sat down with Keith and Kevin Hanson while in Atlanta to discuss the history of the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project as it celebrates 20 years of advancing U.S. distance running.

We start by going back to the brothers’ roots in Michigan and the state of the sport in America before helping improve it. The Hansons made an emphasis on group training, which stood out to them from studying Ethiopians, Kenyans and Japanese. It started off as a $250,000 investment in a team that helped provide housing, health insurance, travel and equipment for a few runners but later blossomed with a partnership with Brooks.

In 2008, they put Brian Sell on the U.S. Olympic Marathon team. They also helped develop and guide Des Linden into a two-time Olympian and Boston Marathon champion. In this episode, they’ll share some of the behind-the-scenes stories of those breakout moments in their history.

Also, what’s it like for them to take on the challenge of rebuilding the likes of Dathan Ritzenhein or bringing Natosha Rogers into an Olympic team contender for 2021.

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