Meb Keflezighi carries an American flag across the finish line during the… (Stu Forster / Getty Images )
LONDON — Sunday wasn't exactly a banner day for American distance running with Ryan Hall, the fastest marathoner in U.S. history, and Abi Abdirahman both dropping out of the London Olympics marathon well before the halfway mark.
Hall, who ran 2:04:58 at the Boston Marathon in 2011, has been troubled by plantar fasciitis for most of this year. And though he said the problem had cleared up, it might have caused him to change his stride, leading to the right hamstring pain that caused him to quit a race for the first time in his career Sunday.
Hall was nearly seven minutes behind the leaders and more than a minute behind Abdirahman when he dropped out.
"Not finishing a race is not an option, unless I really think I'm going to do serious damage to my career," said Hall, 29, who stepped off the course at 15 kilometers. "There’s a point in that race, coming through the last couple of miles, where yeah, I'm weighing in my mind, 'OK do I get out here? Could I run 26 miles and finish in three hours or something?' But my stride was getting worse and worse.
"I'd be killing myself for the rest of my career if 20 miles into this race I developed some other injury that was a career-ender because I tried to jog to the finish line."
Abdirahman, who finished 15th in the 10,000 meters in Beijing four years ago and who has a marathon-best of 2:08:56, quit about the same time Hall did after he said felt a pop in his knee.
"It was the hardest thing to do," said Abdirahman, 35. "At the same time, I didn't want to push hard and I didn't want to take the risk because of the pain I was feeling in my leg. The best thing was to shut it down and drop out."
The third American in the race, former UCLA All-American Meb Keflezighi, finished fourth in 2:11:06. Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich won in 2:08:01, ahead of Kenyans Abel Kirui (2:08:27) and Wilson Kipsang (2:09:37).
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