Fourteen years ago when Hall Coach Jeff Billings was coaching in Palo Alto, California he began a challenge for his runners to beat him in their preseason time trial. The basic idea was that he would race everyone on the team. First he would race the fastest kids, then the next fastest and so on and so forth. The more tired he got, the better chance the newer kids had to beat him.
When Billings took over from legendary coach, Tom Butterfield four years ago he brought this tradition to Hall but brought in some younger runners to set the pace. What happens now is each Hall athlete will be put in a group with runners of similar ability to race against. One of Hall's coaches/alumni/special guests will be leading the group and will set an appropriate pace for the group. The way the "Challenge" works is that everyone in the group runs with the leader for as long as they can, for up to 8 laps (2 miles). For the first 7 laps you *cannot* pass the leader. If you keep up for 7 laps, then on the 8th and final lap, you can run as hard as you can and try to beat your leader. If you do - you win a prize.
The time trials will begin at 7 pm at Hall High School with the fastest heat which will include Hall's varsity boys. The following will be the guest pacers who make up some of past and current runners in the United States:
* Everett Hackett
: Hall assistant coach who is also the reigning CT Runner of the Year per New England Magazine. In 2016 he qualified for and competed in the US Marathon Olympic Trials.
* James Randon:
Yale alum from a few years ago, currently a professional runner sponsored by Saucony and training in the Boston area. He is sub four minute miler.
* Amby Burfoot
: 1968 Boston Marathon Winner. Former editor of Runners World Magazine. Also Coach Billing's uncle. He's now 72 years old and will be leading the final group. He attended the Coaches Challenge last year for the first time, loved it, and wrote a cool blog post
* Patti (Catallano) Dillon: Patti was one of the top female marathon runners in the country and the world in the 70's. She was the first American woman to break 2:30 in a marathon.
* Donn Cabral
: Glastonbury native,Multiple time CIAC State Open champion, All American, Princeton Alum & two time Olympian in the Steeplechase. Currently attending UConn Law and training with Hacket and other members of the Hartbeat Track Club.