Triumph and tragedy collided at today’s Olympic Men’s Marathon Trials in New York City’s Central Park, in which 25-year-old Ryan Hall placed first, while another talented runner, 28-year-old Ryan Shay, collapsed and died.
Hall, of Mammoth Lakes, California, broke away from the pack in Mile 17, finishing in 2:09:02. Dathan Ritzenhein, 24, of Eugene, Oregon, placed a strong second in 2:11:07. Brian Sell, 29, a member of the Hanson-Brooks Distance Project, captured the last Olympic team berth by powering past world-marathon record holder Khalid Khannouchi in the last miles, finishing in 2:11:40.
Shay, a former national champion in the marathon and half-marathon and the 2001 NCAA title-holder in the 10,000 meters, collapsed at the 5.5 mile mark in the race. Despite immediate medical attention, he was pronounced dead at 8:46 a.m. EST. Doctors did not announce an official cause.
“It puts a knife through everybody’s heart,” said Mary Wittenberg, president of the New York Road Runners, which organized tomorrow’s New York City Marathon.
Today’s race was also surprising because several race favorites did not perform as well as expected. Meb Keflezighi, 32, the silver-medalist in the 2004 Olympic marathon, finished 8th, in 2:15:09, while 36-year old Alan Culpepper dropped out just past mile 15, according to marathonguide.com’s race-day coverage. Former world-record marathon-holder, 30-year-old Abdi Abdirahman, also dropped out at the 30k mark.