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(Enlarge) Oregon national Guardsman leads the way in the 10,000 meters final of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece

Story and photo by Tim Hipps

Special to Soundoff!

Oregon National Guard Capt. Dan Browne challenged the Ethiopians and Kenyans Friday while running to a 12th-place finish in the men's 10,000-meter final in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium.

On Sunday, Browne will run the marathon, the final athletics event of the Athens Games. He planned to use the 10,000 meters as a training precursor for the 26.2-mile trek but instead led several laps early and continued running full speed until the waning circuits to finish with a time of 28 minutes, 14.53 seconds.

In the end, however, Ethiopia's dazzling duo of Kenenisa Bekele and Sileshi Sihine lapped Browne and more than half the runners in the 24-man field.

Bekele won the gold medal with an Olympic record time of 27:05.10 and Sihine claimed the silver medal in 27:09.39. Zersenay Tadesse took the bronze meda with a national record time of 27:22.57 for Eritrea.

"I'm at that point of my career where I've done that whole sit behind the Kenyans and just let them control everything," Browne said of setting the early pace. "We were going easy so I decided to put myself in the mix. I wasn't afraid of leading for a little bit because you've got to test yourself. I think they know who I am now."

Team USA's Abdihakem Abdirahman finished 15th in 28:26.26. Dathan Ritzenhein, the other American entry, dropped out of the race.

Browne, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and former member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, was pleased with his performance.

"I gave my best out there tonight," he said. "The heat might have made me pull back just a little bit, but at the same time, when I finished I was pretty tired. My calves got a little tight toward the end."

Browne, however, said he chose to not sprint at the end so as not to spoil the Ethiopians' moment as they lapped him to a thunderous roar from the crowd. His mind instead raced nine days into the future.

"My strength is actually my best asset right now, so I'm really looking forward to the marathon," Browne said. "I gave myself a little taper for this race so I feel good about that. I want to make it to the finish line 'of the marathon'. This stadium is too beautiful not to make it."

Editor's note: Tim Hipps is a public affairs officer in Alexandria, Va.

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