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new balance athletic shoes for men A few words from man who started all this As African runner after African runner crossed the line in much slower times than expected under ideal (cool and overcast) conditions Shorter, the 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist (and silver medalist in just smiled. distance runners, but looking back, he can help but wonder how he did it. in on the press truck this morning, Shorter said, was telling myself, can believe I ever ran this fast. he did. Army physician), he may have initiated the craze, but he remains the last American male to win an Olympic marathon. mile record holder Steve Scott what with runners such as Ryan Hall and Deena Kastor seen as having legitimate chances for marathon medals. I went down the list, I say the drug problem had a lot to do with it, Shorter said. that we cleaning it up, America will come back. I very optimistic. into these Olympics, this is the first time America had a chance for a (marathon) gold medal since 1984 (Alberto Salazar, who finished 15th after being one of the favorites). We have true medal contenders. At the elite level, it has come back, with people like Ryan Hall and Deena Kastor. Look at our young runners. We getting better. who coaches at Cal State San Marcos, hasn always been crazy about American distance runners since he passed the torch, but he is now. yeah, he says. people like (Bernard) Lagat and (Alan) Webb in the 1,500 and Lagat in the 5,000 I very comfortable saying there a chance for a gold medal there for Lagat. And Ryan Hall has a legitimate chance to win. Every race he runs, he seems better. He intelligent. distance running, as a whole, is better now than it has been. but it sure didn look better in yesterday race. Not that it was expected here. Runners such as Hall weren around. The first American male to cross was Mark Batras, 23, who finished 16th in 2:28.13. Now, I not saying that wasn quite an accomplishment, but Russia Yulia Gromova won the women race in 2:28:23. Pedestrian, when you notice that the women marathon world record, held by Great Britain Paula Radcliffe, is 2:15.25. A time such as that yesterday would have put Radcliffe ninth in the men field. The first four finishers among the men, led by 28yearold Simon Wangai who won by 49 seconds over countryman Leonard Maina were from Kenya. Never heard of Wangai? They probably never heard of him in Kenya, where they produce distance runners the way Tyson does chickens. When asked what possessed him to run marathons, Shorter replied: Well, there must be a lot of that going around in Kenya. That has to be the most naive country on the planet. It was thought that the Rock Roll record of 2:08:33, set by Kenya Philip Taurus in 1999 (the top 10 marks in the 11 races all are held by Kenyans) was in jeopardy. The weather was nearperfect, but all Wangai could muster was 2:10.07. Tim Murphy, founder of Elite Racing, the event parent company and now a consultant, wasn too happy with the time. ran the perfect split (a 64minute half) for a record today, Murphy said. weather like this, they should have run better secondhalf splits. They just went out to win the thing, playing games to see who could make the most money. said the weather was almost perfect a little humid. Well, it wasn exactly St. Louis or New Orleans in August. Trust me. Marathoners couldn have asked for more, and many of them didn can understand how people in the back of the pack have as much fun as the elite runners, Shorter said. in the back of the pack got everything out of himself or herself today. The gratification is there. All you have to do is finish and everything else is a bonus. I find it difficult to drive 26 miles in my car. I ran my first marathon (in Eugene, Ore.), Shorter said, was a banquet for the runners that night at our hotel and I spent the time upstairs in bed, telling myself, my God, I have to run another one of these? in, I never really knew how hard it was. as I am, I could have told him.