Triumph and Tragedy at Olympic Trials

Yesterday's Olympic Trials marathon in New York City was one of the most exciting marathon races on US soil as Ryan Hall (left), Dathan Ritzenhein, and Brian Sell finished 1-2-3, which guaranteed them spots on the team for Beijing next year. Hall's performance was ungodly. His finishing time was 2:09:02, a US trials record, but even more impressive was the way he demolished the field with a 4:35 mile surge on mile 17. He beat Ritzenhein by more than two minutes and ran the second half of the race just under 1:03. Ritz, who had a disappointing marathon debut at last year's NYC marathon ran a solid race. There has been talk that if he makes the team for 10,000 meters next year he may opt out of the marathon. Third place finisher Sell was probably everybody's 'blue collar' favorite to make the team. A 10:06 two-miler in high school, Sell went on to have small success in college but really began to shine when he started running marathons and began training with the Hanson's group in Rochester Hills, Michigan.

Sadly, these great accomplishments were undermined by the untimely death of Ryan Shay (right). The 28-year-old Shay had a heart attack and collapsed five miles into the race. Shay had finished 9th in the 2004 Olympic trials and was a high school star at Central Lake, Michigan and a 9 time All American at Notre Dame University. This summer he got married to former Stanford distance star Alicia Craig and by all accounts was poised to run a good race. It's shocking to see this happen to an athlete in his prime. The last time anything like this happened was when Athletics West distance star Jeff Drenth collapsed and died after a training run in 1986. I remember the Drenth incident well because he was just a few years older than me and I used to watch him race in meets at the University at Michigan when he was a runner for Central Michigan Univ.

The only thing I could do when I heard about Shay's passing was to lace up my shoes and go for a run. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

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