In 1999, Keith and Kevin Hanson founded the Hansons Distance Project, purchasing the first of three homes in Rochester Hills, MI to house post-collegiate distance runners in their pursuit of excellence on a national and international level. In 2003, Brooks Running signed on as a co-sponsor of the team, which has been known as Hansons-Brooks Distance Project ever since.
It was 20yrs ago this week that my brother & I purchased our 1st @HansonsDistProj home and the program was born. It’s grown to 3 homes & 3 apartments. Thank you to all of the athletes, race directors, elite athlete coordinators and obviously @brooksrunning for a wonderful 20yrs.— hansonsrun (@hansonsrun) April 17, 2019
The approach realized in the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project incorporates the following four principles:
- Create an opportunity for successful college athletes to continue training beyond their college years.
- Provide an environment in which training can be the focus of those post-collegiate athletes (without the financial necessity of working full time or chasing after money in road races).
- Develop a center for those athletes to train together as a team.
- Incorporate the team members in local community activities to foster excitement for the sport of distance running, and motivate future distance runners.
The standards athletes must meet to be eligible for our program are 29:00/33:45 for the 10k, 14:00/16:15 for the 5k, and 2:20/2:42 for the marathon. While these standards form the basis for our selection process, they are not set in stone; other factors, such as an athlete’s willingness to relocate to the Rochester area, the meets in which they ran their times, and the size of the college they attended, come into play.
This opportunity provided by the Hansons is the best out there for runners coming out of college who have demonstrated the ability and wish to continue running, but haven’t quite advanced to the next level. The Olympics are the ultimate focus for our runners, but more importantly, all the runners here are taking part in this program to see how fast they can become. Everything here focuses around maximizing time to train. Our lifestyle is most accurately described as being like college only we don’t have classes or homework.
These are the two houses purchased by the Hansons to house the men of the Distance Project. Thanks to Brooks Running Inc., a third house was purchased in 2003 to house the newly formed women’s team. The team’s housing also includes three apartments in Lake Orion, MI.
Asphalt and busy roads come to mind for many when thinking of Metro Detroit -- however, Rochester provides a remarkable array of running terrain for those who live here, including miles of rolling dirt roads; the eight-mile-long, soft-surface Paint Creek Trail; and Stony Creek MetroPark, which includes a six-mile bike path loop marked every 400 meters. When it comes time to race, the southeast of Michigan offers some of the best competition in the Midwest. Whether it be races for cross-country or track, the colleges in the area prove to be an excellent resource for the program. Both these factors make it a great place to start a distance training program.