The 08 Olympic Trials was the first major meet I cared about and watched as a true track fan, and that put me in awe. So, the first marathon I cared about featured Ryan Hall and Wanjiru at the Olympics. The entire pre-race the announcers were saying that it was not going to be a fast race, but that is what Sammy made it, from the gun. Hall wrote that he had to make a decision as soon as the first 100 yards, and Wanjiru's guts had already overwhelmed the minds of most of the field. Seeing him run through Beijing was incredible and it truly drew me into not only track but an avid fan of the marathon.
As I thought about it, Wanjiru was Pre. So Wanjiru won and Pre was fourth, and Wanjiru was Kenyan, and Pre was American, but they exemplified the same qualities that every runner needs to live with and race every race with. They were not afraid to take the lead and force the pace all the way. They were both at the Olympics at age 21, died at age 24, with drinking problems but leaving the world wondering, what could have been, what should have been, and what could have happened with their, to quote David Bedford in Fire On The Track, "so much unfulfilled talent."
Rest In Peace Steve.
Rest In Peace Sammy.
You will be missed.