Top distance runner Ryan Shay died unexpectedly on Saturday at the U.S. men’s olympic marathon trials being held in New York. He collapsed 5 1/2 miles into the race. The 28-year old athlete was rushed to Lenox Hill Hospital and was pronounced dead at 8:46 a.m., authorities said.
There were no statements on what caused Shay’s death but the medical examiner’s office said an autopsy will be performed Sunday.
Shay, a native of Michigan, hit the ground near the Central Park boathouse during the 26.2-mile qualifier for the Beijing Olympic Games. He was a favorite going into the 2004 Olympic trials but a hamstring strain caused him to finish 23rd. Shay was the 2003 U.S. marathon champion and was third at this year’s U.S. 25K championships.
He won the U.S. half marathon in 2003 and 2004 and was the NCAA 10,000-meter champion in 2001, the first national individual title in track for Notre Dame, is alma mater. After the 2006 Twin Cities Marathon, he qualified for the olympic trials.
He leaves his wife, Alicia, who is also a distance runner and was trying to make it to Beijing for the women’s 10,000 meter race.