Sunday, November 04, 2007

ND Grad Ryan Shay Dead: Former Irish star dies running

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy came cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

Today the road all runners come
Shoulder-high we brought you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

–"A Shropshire Lad" by A. E. Housman

Former Fighting Irish running star Ryan Shay died doing what he was famous for, trying to make the team during the New York Olympic marathon trials Saturday. Shay, 28, an 8-time All-American at Notre Dame, and according to Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White, "The Brady Quinn of Notre Dame running," collapsed at the 5.5 mile point of the 26-mile race and was pronounced dead 45 minutes later. And the circumstances surrounding the death could not have been more tragic.

Not only did Ryan marry his wife, Alicia, a mere four months ago, but Ryan Hall, Shay's good friend and training partner, actually won the Olympic trials race in a record time, only to find out at the finish line his mate was gone.

"He was the most tenacious competitor I have ever seen, "said his former Notre Dame coach Joe Piane. Shay showed his coach he was an elite runner by winning the 2001 NCAA 10,000 meter event as an individual, but proved to Piane, "he was a great team man," by finishing 5th in the 2000 Big East cross-country championship "on an Achilles tendon so sore he was a virtual cripple," to give the Irish just enough points to win the team crown.

"We are all devastated over Ryan's death," said USA Track and Field executive officer Craig Masback. "He was a tremendous champion who was here to pursue his dreams."

Sara Hall, Ryan Hall's wife and good friend of both Alicia (who, along with Sara were elite runners in their own right) and Ryan Shay, perhaps summed it up best. "It seems like the Olympic trials are the end of the world, but the most important thing is the people we impact and the God we serve."

There was a moment of silence for both Shay and Earl "Tony" Hughes, the slain brother of Irish running back Robert Hughes, before yesterday's Notre Dame-Navy game.


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