Saturday, November 03, 2007

the awesome and the awful

I'm so into running these days that I'm paying attention to the pros. If track events and road races got as much coverage as football and baseball I'd probably be wasting my weekend afternoons in front of the tube.

Today was the Olympic trials for the marathon. NBC showed a half-hour summary of the event.

Quite a story:

One guy set a record. Another dropped dead.

Ryan Shay, who won a national championship in the 10,000 meters for Notre Dame, collapsed early in the race and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. He had just gotten married in July. His wife was good friends with the wife of the race's champion, Ryan Hall. She was a maid of honor at the Shays' wedding.

Meantime, Ryan Hall broke the record for the event by a minute or so. He was so cool to watch, the way he pumped his fists and pointed skyward as he came in to the finish, high-fiving folks in the crowd and shouting like a he-man. He's definitely the new great American hope for distance running. At just 25, he's already set the American record in the half marathon and the fastest ever debut in the marathon.

America might be bringing home a medal from Beijing next year. When's the last time that happened? LA in '84, when Joan Benoit won?

But still, can you imagine? You run a totally kick ass race, make it to the Olympic team, and find out a good friend and training partner just suddenly died.

Or worse, to be his new wife? You know they had to have arranged their lives in preparation for this day. To have this happen -- sheesh, it boggles the mind.

28 years old.

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