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Friends honor Shay with Marathon run

November 2, 2008 4:24:42 PM PST
If Sean McManus could make it to the rock in Central Park where his friend Ryan Shay died last year, he knew he could finish the New York City Marathon."It was a little bit emotional," said McManus, one of 15 of Shay's Notre Dame teammates who ran Sunday's marathon in his memory. "I thought, if I can get to that spot it'll give me a boost in the last two miles."

A year ago, Shay collapsed 5½ miles into the U.S. men's marathon Olympic trials, which were held in conjunction with the marathon.

The 28-year-old was found to have had an irregular heartbeat because of an enlarged heart.

On Sunday, about 35 people ran the 26.2 miles in honor of Shay.

Besides the Notre Dame cross country alums, there was Shay's brother, Case Shay, and a contingent of friends and family members of Shay's widow, Alicia Shay.

Alicia Shay, though also an elite runner, did not compete in Sunday's marathon. Instead she rode in the pace car and then cheered Team Shay from the stands.

The experience was bittersweet.

"It's kind of a mixed bag," she said. "I'm real excited to be with my family and just to create some positive experiences here in New York."

Most of the friends and family members who had converged on New York from around the country attended a ceremony Saturday dedicating a park bench to Shay.

The bench is near where Shay collapsed, which is why McManus knew the spot. The plaque that adorns the bench is engraved with a quotation from Shay: "It is necessary to dig deep within oneself to discover the hidden grain of steel called will."

McManus, now a coach at Fresno State, found the will to finish the race in just under three hours.

"Everyone was happy that they came and made the trip," he said. "It was all around a great weekend."

Shay's mother-in-law, Sally Craig, who watched the race with her daughter and friends, said Shay would have been thrilled to know he had inspired so many people to train for the marathon.

"Ryan had such an impact on so many people," Craig said. "But he'd have worked them harder."


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