Saturday, November 03, 2007

A triumpant day, a tragic day

I don't even know what to think right now. First Ryan Hall runs an absolutely magnificent race to win the men's Olympic marathon trials in 2:09:02 on a famously tough course, and then the news comes in that Ryan Shay has passed away after collapsing (reportedly with a heart attack!) around the 5-mile mark. It sends chills down my spine. He was only three years older than me. My heart goes out to his new wife, Alicia, and his family and friends. What a horrid tragedy, marring such a triumphant day in American marathoning. I'm waiting impatiently for more details. I'm sure NBC will include a segment during their highlights show a little later this afternoon.

For now, though, I do have to geek out a little bit about this incredible race. Congratulations to Ryan, Dathan, and Brian on making the team. Dathan Ritzenhein ran a three-minute PR on a tough course, and Brian Sell ran a patient, tough race, closing in the last 10K to overtake Dan Browne. I am SO happy for all three of them. Likewise, I am devastated for Dan Browne, who was running in third place when he started hobbling and had to come to a complete stop to stretch out a cramp. Although he kept running for a courageous fifth-place finish, I could tell he was in pain as Brian overtook him. An incredible, gutsy run for Dan Browne. I think he was in pain for the rest of the race, but he didn't fade by much. I also think Khalid Khannouchi redeemed himself a little with his run. He went after the lead pack alone and ran most of the rest of the race alone, passing some to get fourth place. He may still make the team if Ritz makes the Olympic team in the 10,000m and decides to focus on that.

Ryan Hall ran like a machine. He ran comfortably with the lead pack until about mile 17, and then suddenly he tossed in a 4:32 mile. After that he didn't really let up by much, running in the 4:40-4:52 range for the rest of the race. The whole time he looked like he was out for a Sunday morning tempo run. The enormity of his accomplishment started to hit him in the last mile and I think he let up a little then, but he still shattered the Olympic marathon trials record on a hilly, curving course that some predicted would yield a 2:13 win. He looked like he could have kept going.

Rest in peace, Ryan Shay.

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