Ryan Shay, a four-time national distance-running champion, died today shortly after the 5-mile mark of the U.S. Olympic Team marathon trials in Central Park in New York. He was 28.
Shay collapsed and was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation during the men's 26-mile (42 kilometer) trials before being transported to Lenox Hill Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:46 a.m., USA Track and Field said in a statement.
"The Olympic Trials is traditionally a day of celebration, but we are heartbroken," USATF Chief Executive Officer Craig Masback said. "His death is a tremendous loss for the sport and the long-distance running community."
Shay was in the main pack of runners when he collapsed, USA Track and Field spokeswoman Jill Geer said in an interview. Geer said the cause of death wasn't known and that an autopsy may be scheduled for tomorrow.
Trials winner Ryan Hall, who trained with Shay and is friends with his wife, Alicia, said he was "completely shocked" when he received the news after the race.
"You never expect to hear anything like that and for it to be my good friend's spouse, it cut me through the heart," Hall said on a media conference call. "He had such great heart."
Shay was champion of the USA 20-kilometer event in 2004, the USA half-marathon 2003 and 2004 and the USA marathon in 2003. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he won the 2001 National Collegiate Athletic Association 10,000-meter title and was a nine-time All-American.
More recently, he had trained with Team USA California, which includes Hall, Olympic medalist Meb Keflezighi and Deena Kastor. Hall, who led three runners who gained berths in the 2008 Beijing Games by winning the trials, said he would dedicate his Olympic training to Shay.
"We were past teammates," Hall said in a news conference transcript. "I think it's a sad thing. My thoughts just go out to him."
Shay was born May 4, 1979, in Ypsilanti, Michigan. His wife is a professional distance runner and was an NCAA champion and record-holder at Stanford University.
"The United States Olympic Committee offers its deepest condolences to Ryan Shay's family, his many friends and the entire USA Track and Field community," USOC Chief Executive Officer Jim Scherr said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been touched by this sudden and tragic loss."
Hall posted an Olympic trials record time of 2 hours, 9 minutes, 2 seconds. Dathan Ritzenhein finished second in 2:11.06 and Brian Sell was third in 2:11.40 to also earn Olympic berths.
A 35-year-old man died while running last month in the Chicago Marathon, which begun with temperatures as high as 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius). The temperate in New York this morning was 47 degrees, according to the National Weather Service's Web site.
The trials were staged in conjunction with the New York City Marathon, which will be run tomorrow. The New York City Marathon boasts the largest field in the sport, with more than 38,000 runners.
"It's certainly not the way any of us expected any part of today to go, and we just extend our deepest condolences to the family," Mary Wittenberg, president and chief executive officers of New York Road Runners, the club organizing both events, said in a news conference transcript.