The annual 1-mile memorial race takes place on July 28.
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Ryan Shay was the workhorse of American marathon running before his sudden death at the 2008 USA Olympic Marathon Trials in New York at 28 years old. Shay, who ran for Notre Dame and later won the 2003 USA marathon title, was admired and respected by both competitors and fans, alike, especially for his toughness, competitive spirit, and sometimes biting sense of humor.
Shay was from Central Lake, Mich., and in the nearby town of Charlevoix his memory is honored every summer at the Ryan Shay Mile, which will be held for the fifth time on Saturday, July 28. The event was founded in the summer of 2008 to honor Shay’s memory with the thing he loved most: competition.
“Our ultimate hope and goal is that the Shay family find this a fitting tribute to their son and his memory,” said race director Matt Peterson in a statement provided to Race Results Weekly. “Maybe this race, in it’s own little way, can help inspire young people to greatness just as Ryan did.”
This year’s event boasts a quality elite field and a $4000 prize money purse made possible by Bergmann Marine, a family-owned marine sales, service and storage facility. The men’s field will be led by South Africa’s Peter van der Westhuizen who has 3:35.33 1500m/3:54.90 mile personal bests to his credit. His key rival will be New Jersey/New York Track Club’s Liam Boylan-Pett (3:37.05/3:58.38). Also entered are Daniel Clark, De’Sean Turner, and Daniel Stockberger. Jeff See holds the course record of 3:55 set in 2010.
Heather Kampf leads the list of women’s entrants. Better known as an 800m runner, Kampf has run 4:12.09 for 1500m and ran 4:30.95 at the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York City last year. Last May, she won the USA road mile title in Minneapolis where she lives.
“I am so excited to be racing the Ryan Shay Mile,” Kampf wrote in an e-mail to Race Results Weekly. “I think running in a race that is in memorial of such a great athlete AND a great person elevates the status of the competition, and pushes all of us as competitors, to compete at a higher level in his honor. It reminds us of how special our gifts are, and gives us a chance to celebrate them!”
Steeplechaser Ashley Higginson should be Kampf’s strongest rival. She finished fourth in the steeple at the USA Olympic Trials, and recently improved her personal best to 9:34.49 at the Aviva London Grand Prix. Also in the lineup are milers Ashley Miller and Shannon Osika and marathoner Dot McMahan. The women’s course record is 4:31 by Frances Koons in 2009.
“We are very excited and humbled to be able to host this elite group of athletes for this year’s race,” commented race director Peterson. “The depth of both fields is certainly the highest quality in the race’s short history. For these athletes to make the trek to Northern Michigan to honor Ryan is a true testament to his continued influence.”