On Sunday—the final day of the 2012 Summer Olympics—the men's marathon will take place and the USA has some impressive contenders.
Ryan Hall, Abdihakem Abdirahman, and Mebrahtom Keflezighi all have a legitimate shot to medal and if all goes well, a podium sweep isn't out of the question either. Also, each have a unique story that deserves much recognition.
Ironically the marathon is a grueling race that lasts two-plus hours, and all three Americans competing in London didn't just wake up one day and decide to run 26.2 miles.
Ryan Hall has literally taken the long haul en route to becoming a marathon runner.
He crushed the competition as a one-miler runner in high school and then proceeded to develop the 5,000-meter race in college.
While at Stanford, Hall set the school 5,000 record with a time of 13 minutes, and 22.32 seconds.Transitioning into a half-marathoner, Hall became the first person in American history to run the race in less than one hour (59:43).
The gradual development proved well also, because Hall took 10th place in the marathon at the 2008 Beijing Games.
He enters London with a personal best time of 2:06:17 which is the seventh among all competitors. That said, Hall has the potential to challenge for gold but it will take his absolute best effort.
For a chance to live without the risk of danger, Abdihakem Abdirahman and his family had to flee his home country of Somalia in 1990.
Born in Somalia, Abdirahman and his family moved to the United States in 1990 to escape civil war. The conflict, among several of the nation's tribes, made front page news in December 1992, when U.S. troops were sent to help preserve peace and distribute food. Abdirahman was adamantly in favor of the American intervention. His father, Mahamed, worked as a production head for Conoco, an American oil company. The position put him in great danger, so the family moved to the U.S. and settled in Tucson, Arizona.
Strictly known as a 10,000-meter runner once he took up the sport, Abdirahman qualified for three straight Summer Olympics in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Unfortunately, he did not win a medal as a 10th place finish during the Sydney Games 12 years ago remains his best result on the big stage.
Now a marathoner, Abdirahman is in his fourth straight Olympics and his best time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 56 seconds can challenge for a medal. With some good teammates to help push the pace, he'll be in the mix.
Before Mebrahtom "Meb" Keflezighi began running, he was already on the run... for his life.
A brutal civil war broke out in his home country of Eritrea, a young Meb Keflezighi fled with his family to Italy.
When they were granted refugee status by the US, they relocated to San Diego.
Once in America, Meb began to dominate the 5,000 and 10,000-meter runs in college. Regardless of it being indoor or outdoor track, Meb was establishing himself as one of the best distance runners around.
He then achieved something no American Olympian had done since Frank Shorter in 1972 and 1976, win a medal in the marathon.
At the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Meb won the silver medal for the U.S. after taking 12th place in 2000. With his combined experience and toughness, you can anticipate Meb battling for a medal in London.
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