Determined to cultivate homegrown world class
distance runners, two brothers pooled their resources to establish their own
running team. Their goal was to return
American runners to the world's elite in distance running. For producer Roger
Hsu, Elaine Lu says the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project is on the verge of achieving
of time people have obsessive-compulsive for bad things like cigarette or
alcohol, or gambling,” says Clint Verran, Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. “You
think of a person who is an obsessive gambler, he can't stop gambling, he can't
stop. Well, I can't stop running."
Verran is not at his physical therapy business, he is running. Every morning, Verran joins a group of
runners at Stony Creek Metro Park outside Detroit.
are) in town there at 7:00 a.m. (we) all run together, the next day we do the
same thing. We do workouts together, everything
together," says Brian Sell.
and Clint Verran train with the Hansons-Brooks
Distance Project, a running group set up by brothers Kevin and Keith
Hanson in 1999.
Hanson explains the project concept:
"We were disappointed in how the
Americans were faring in international competitions,” Hanson says. “Our
governing body has done a poor job at marketing our sport as well as developing
athletes. One nice thing about our country is we do have private individuals
that step up and take over these responsibilities that many think the governing
body should do."
runners themselves, Keith and his older brother Kevin "stepped up."
Hanson adds, "In 1999 my brother Keith and I began the program as an
attempt to try to bring distance running back to a level that was competitive
on a world scale."
one of the project's original runners.
as a sport in and of itself is not as exciting to watch on TV as a baseball,
basketball or football game,” he says. “... so to expect people just to get
excited about distance running just because we are out there is just not going
support means less sponsorship for distance runners. Determined to develop their own team, the Hanson brothers' have
been spending $250,000 each year to cover the runner's housing, medical
insurance, coaching and travel expenses, allowing athletes like Brian Sell to
focus on training.
much everybody here was the top guy on their college team and nobody likes to
lose, so it's a constant competition every day," Sell says.
success led to the shoe company Brooks Running to become a team sponsor in
2003. The car company Saturn signed on after the team's strong showing at the
2006 Boston Marathon.
brothers' dreams were realized last November when team member Brian Sell made
the U.S. Olympic team by finishing third in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
wasn't really even on my radar when I first came out here because I never
really thought that was possible," Sell says.
As far as
the Hanson brothers are concerned, when it comes to running, anything is
possible, a spirit that lives in their motto: "Only those that attempt the
absurd will achieve the impossible."
you take someone like Brian Sell and you watch him through his hard works and
his efforts, develop to a point where all of a sudden now he is one of those guys,
it means more than the guys that was always one of those guys,” says Kevin Hanson. “So there is a little bit more satisfaction there."