In Praise of our new Olympic Team


Ryan Hall, Dathan Ritzenhein and Brian Sell all ran the races of their lives on Saturday, November 3, 2007 at the USA Olympic Marathon Trials for Men. The course was a wonderfully challenging course, and the outcome was something to behold. Here, in this column, the blogger will speak of the three men who made the team......

The 2008 Men's Olympic Trials marathon will go down for two reasons, in history-one, the absolute rejuvenation of the American male marathoner, and two the sad tragedy of Ryan Shay. My belief is, however, that if Ryan Shay could tell us, he would also want us to look at how wonderful his friends ran in this important event. And that is what we will do here:

Ryan Hall. I have watched Ryan run since high school, running the FootLocker Cross Country regionals and Mount SAC cross country each year. Ryan made our Cal Track covers several times, as he tried to run a sub four minute mile in high school, running 4:02.7, I believe. Ryan's time at Stanford was a time of athletic and educational growth for Hall and he had begun to run well, taking the cross country runner up on NCAA 2003 Champs and winning the 5,000 meters at the NCAA champs. His 13:16.03 for 5,000 meters got alot of people excited in 2005. Since January 14, 2007, however, the only thing anyone would talk about with regrards to Ryan was his 59:43 for the half marathon! Then, it was his 2:08.24 at Flora London.

And now, it is his 2:09:02 on the criterium style Olympic Trials course. A 51:08 first ten miles, then a 48 minute ten miles, a final 10k in just under 30 minutes! Ryan Hall did not look in distress at all: his workouts gave him confidence, the hills were part of his success and he was on a roll! His 4:49 last mile, waving to the crowd is indicative of his level of training!

Dathan Ritzhenhein showed on Saturday what many have thought he could do. After his 2:14 in New York last year, Dathan must have had some concerns. His 10,000 meter run in Indy was tough, with the humidity and his near collapse. But this race was run well. Not only did he stay out of trouble, but he moved with the pack when it needed to, getting to the lead at 51:08 for ten miles, with Abdi Abdirahman, Meb Keflizighi, Ryan Hall, Dathan Ritzehnhein and Dan Browne. When Ryan took off, Dathan was not far behind. The key was that Dathan kept his cool, like Ryan and held on to his position.
Dathan's 2:11:06 was a personal best in the most stressful, emotion wringing event of the year-the Olympic Trials.

Brian Sell is tough. I knew that when I saw him run 2:13:09 at Helsinki in the 2005 Championships. He could run criterium courses. His Boston performance in 2006 was excellent as well. Sell is part of the Brooks Hanson Distance Project, one of the most important breaths of fresh air in the sport. The team training groups around the U.S. re one of the huge reasons why runners did so well here and why American male marathoning is on the upswing.

Brian Sell ran his race-he was down a minute from third, when he went after Dan Browne. He cut it to 47 seconds, then 33, then 15, then, Sell went for it and he ran his race, his 2:11.46 giving him the third position on the 2008 Olympic team.

Brian was a good college distance runner who decided to give it more time, and we are sure glad he did!

Look at the three programs, three different sponsors that have worked with the three athletes who made the team: Ryan Hall, Dathan Ritzenhein and Brian Sell made the team because of many reasons. They found the coaches and training programs and community that worked for them, they pursued their dreams and they never, ever gave up!

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