Among the many story lines leading up to tomorrow’s Super Bowl, one that gained early traction was the “will he or won’t he” speculation about Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s possible retirement following the game, which was fueled by his “this could be my last rodeo” comment to Patriots coach Bill Belichick during the post-game handshake following the AFC championship.
Whenever a legendary professional athlete like Manning calls it quits on a stellar career, it’s big news, and not just on ESPN and the sports talk radio shows. There’s the obligatory press conference, complete with thanks to everyone in the athlete’s career and often more than a few emotional moments of voice cracks and choking back of tears.
The announcement earlier this week that Ryan Hall was withdrawing from next week’s ING New York City Marathon was met with dismay and disappointment in most quarters, but among some running cognoscenti the reaction was more of a head shake and “What, again?”
Hall had a brilliant start to his marathoning career, including a dominant 2:09:02 victory in the 2008 Olympic Trials race in Manhattan’s Central Park, and a mind-blowing (and admittedly wind-blown) 2:04:58 at Boston in 2011, part of a five-year streak in which he ran two world-class marathons every year.
But in 2012, that brilliance began to lose some of its luster. The first cracks in his marathon dominance came at the Olympic Trials race in Houston, where he finished second behind Meb Keflezghi, another American who has endured his own stretch of tribulations before reemerging as a top marathoner. Hall’s downward spiral continued at the London Olympics, where he dropped out before the halfway point, then accelerated with scratches from New York that November and Boston the following spring. The latest scratch makes it four consecutive marathons that he’s failed to finish, or even start. Continue reading