Ryan Shay 5.5 Mile Memorial Run in Your Hometown: Saturday, November 17

Posted by Filed Under: Elite Running, Marathons

shay_ryan-falmouth07225.jpgMost folks out there who are reading this are already familiar with the untimely death of 28-year-old running phenom Ryan Shay at the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials in New York City, on Saturday, November 3. Ryan collapsed at mile 5.5 and was pronounced dead at Lenox Hill Hospital shortly thereafter.

This news has rocked the distance running community, as Ryan had an incredibly promising career and had already set many records in his years at Notre Dame and proved himself at distances ranging from 10k to the marathon. At 28, the prospects of him representing the U.S. in future Olympics looked good.

Sure, the loss of a talented distance runner is a tough pill to swallow for the United States, which has only recently started to have a resurgence of talent at the marathon level. What is harder to swallow, though, is the thought of those that are left behind trying to make sense of the empty space that he once occupied. His wife, Alicia. His training partners, Meb, Deena, Josh, etc. his numerous friends and family.

Join us in support of them as they process their loss and dedicate your own 5.5 mile run next Saturday, November 17th in memory of Ryan. Run the exact distance, or dedicate a 5.5 mile portion of a longer run in his memory. Take the time to recognize life’s frailty, to think about those in your life that you need to tell that you love and most of all, pray for those who will feel Ryan’s absence the most. Our goal is to get as many runners on this planet as possible running this virtual memorial together. Leave a comment below if you plan to participate, so the Shay family can see the results of our efforts, and perhaps take some comfort. (UPDATE: If you’re not up to 5.5 miles, just dedicate whatever distance you are able to run or run/walk, or walk, to Ryan. It’s not about distance or speed.)

Ryan’s father, Joe Shay, started a thread about Ryan over at the Let’sRun forum. I know the family will appreciate any comments you feel moved to write.

Also, a memorial fund has been set up. I know money can never take away the sense of loss, but his devastated family will be most appreciative of anything you choose to offer.

About Jeff Smith

Initially running to escape his two younger sisters, Jeff has been running as far back as he can remember. Through high school, the Marines and Super Hero Training School, Jeff kept at the left-right-left right but without focus. In 1999 he stepped up to the challenge of organizing a running group, began informal coaching and applied some goals to his own running. Now with several respectable distances and times under his belt, he spends most of his time running for the pure joy of it, encouraging other runners to tap into their potential, saving kittens stranded in trees and helping the elderly cross the street.

  1. Jenny on November 20th at 6:31 pm

    5.5 for those who live and love running. 5.5 for those who grieve. 5.5 to feel alive. God has used you Ryan and will continue to use your life and experience to the benefit of others. You live on.

  2. Pony on November 20th at 6:52 pm

    I ran 5.5 for Ryan on Saturday.

    I prayed for his wife, his family, his friends.

    I prayed for runners and coaches and future runners who will be touched by the legacy Ryan left behind.

    I prayed for myself that I would be able to run pain-free again someday soon.

    I thanked God that I was out there running and for all the wonderful gifts that He has blessed me with through running.

  3. Diane Legate on November 21st at 10:01 pm

    Run Gazelle of Grand Rapids, MI ran 5.5 miles on November 17. We encouraged each other to be thankful we can run and to strive to positively impact another runner’s life as Ryan Shay has done to so many.

  4. Erin on November 22nd at 4:07 pm

    I ran 5.5 on Nov 18th as well in honor of Ryan Shay. It was special for me because it was also the 7th anniversary of my father’s death. He was a runner.

  5. George on December 3rd at 10:04 am

    I joined in on the run! It was a moving day! I committed to pray for Ryan’s family on every run I did in the month of Nov. It was extra special running on 17th.

  6. A Million Stories : Complete Running Network on January 27th at 11:32 pm

    […] have the ability to do really wonderful things. I want to thank my friend Jeff for organizing the Ryan Shay run. It was a fitting tribute to a positive running role model. Thanks […]

  7. Nicole Evans on June 2nd at 9:02 am

    What an amazing individual. I will run five miles and dedicate it to you for sure. I spent time with you and your teammantes and Joe Vigil in Mammoth training. Great athlete, kind person and never looked down on anyone. Me and my best friend Mara are praying for you and your wife, family , coaches and teammates.

    Love and respect always,


  8. Michael Cannon on August 30th at 8:38 am

    I ran a 2 mile race at his fathers property for m high school xc team, and this is such a sad story.