Sunday, November 4, 2007

Trials Tragedy

Most of you have probably heard about the tragedy at the US Men's Olympic Marathon Trials yesterday. Ryan Shay, a highly competitive marathoner, and considered a dark horse in the trials, collapsed at mile 5.5 and died. Most of the runners, including his good friend and eventual winner, Ryan Hall, had no idea of Shay's death until almost 2 hours later. This is a sad day for the running community, but especially for Shay's family, friends, and his recent bride, Alicia. We should keep them in our prayers, and since the competitive running community is so close, there's a chance that someone reading this knows someone personally touched by his death. Shay's friends and family will need all the support they can get.

I was watching the Trials yesterday, while here on the East Coast visiting friends. I took the early Chinatown from DC to NYC in time for the start. Due to the nature of the race course, I was able to see the start at Rock Center, and get up to Central Park and see the marathoners 8 more times as I ran around the course. After the start, I hurried up to mile 6. The packs were still pretty tight then, and I watched all the racers pass before moving up the parkway to get about a half mile or up the course (I was trying to get to 79th St or so.) I saw one of the marathoners pass me walking (Abdi I think), and I thought, that's weird, I guess it just wasn't his day. Next thing I saw, there was a runner laying on the ground with about 5 or 6 people over him giving him CPR. All of us who were walking had to walk around him due to the lack of sidewalks, so we walked within feet of him. I looked over as I stepped past, and I felt sick. I could tell that their CPR wasn't working, but I said a prayer for him and hurried away so that the ambulance (which still wasn't there yet) could get by without spectator interference. The rest of the race I had no idea what had happened to this runner, and it was obvious the finishers didn't know either since at the finish, the look of joy on Ryan Hall's face was incredible. It wasn't until I saw the news ticker in Times Square that I learned of Shay's fate.

There are some good postings and links to stories about Shay's life on

Aside from that tragedy, it was a really good race. It was great to be able to cheer for so many great runners with Minnesota connections. The highlight really was tracking Jason Lehmkuhle's performance throughout the race, and being able to watch the runners pass so many times. It was like watching a cross country race for over 2 hours. I really hope that this sort of event happens more often than every four years, and that the course is tailored to spectators like this one was. It made it much more of a sporting event. Usually a marathon is much easier to watch on TV, this one was better in person.

I could write more about this race and how well Ryan Hall ran. Perhaps later I'll post some photos, but sadly the story here is about Ryan Shay. Hall, Ritz, and Sells have a lot to run for and to inspire them in Beijing.

1 comment:

Ed Kohler said...

Thanks for sharing this, Nathan. What a tragedy.