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Wednesday 21 October 2009

3 runners die in Detroit marathon

In the span of just 16 minutes, three men collapsed and died while running the 32nd Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon -- the first deaths in the event since 1994.

The first to collapse was Daniel Langdon, 36, of Laingsburg, at 9:02 a.m., said Rich Harshbarger, vice president of consumer marketing for the Detroit Media Partnership, which handles business operations for the Free Press and Detroit News. Langdon was on Michigan Avenue between the 11- and 12-mile markers.

Rick Brown, 65, of Marietta, Ohio, collapsed at 9:17 a.m. near where Langdon went down, Harshbarger said. And Jon Fenlon, 26, of Waterford collapsed at about 9:18 a.m., just after finishing the half-marathon in 1:53:37, he said.

Fenlon, whose Facebook page says he worked at the advertising firm Campbell-Ewald in Warren, graduated from Eastern Michigan University.

He made headlines in 2006 when he caught a home run ball hit by Magglio Ordoñez that sealed the Tigers' sweep of the Oakland A's -- sending the team to the World Series, said friend Jenny Wroblewski.

Family members declined to comment Sunday, saying they were too distraught.

Friends and family of Langdon could not be reached for comment; Brown's family declined to comment.

Deaths at marathons are rare. Minneapolis cardiologist Kevin Harris presented a study this year at the American College of Cardiology's 58th Annual Scientific Session showing the death rate for marathons was 0.8 per 100,000 participants.

Sunday's fatalities were the first in the race since 1994, when veteran runner Samuel Grafton, 42, of Troy, died of a heart attack at the 22-mile mark. Grafton's death was the only other recorded death in the race's history.

The deadliest day of running occurred during the 2008 Great North Run half marathon in England in 2005, when four male runners died on a warm and humid September day.

"It's important to emphasize the rarity of it because far more people have health benefits from the sport than these type of issues occurring," said Keith Hanson, coach of Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, an elite running club based in Rochester Hills.

Hanson, who has attended hundreds of marathons, said he thought the weather didn't contribute to the deaths.

National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Considine said at 7 a.m. the temperature at City Airport was 28 degrees with a cloudless sky. By 9 a.m., the temperature was 34.

Marathon doctors and race officials said rapid, state-of-the-art resuscitation was provided to the three runners who died. There were 14 doctors on the event's medical team of more than 60 health workers, said Dr. Jenny Atas, an emergency physician from Detroit Receiving Hospital, who directed the medical team.

Runners also sign a medical release form.

When a runner, believed to be Langdon, collapsed, three spectators began administering CPR and stayed with him until help arrived.

"We did everything we could," said one spectator, a nurse, who asked not to be identified because she wanted to remain private. "I want the family to know that."

Steve Corcoran, 62, of Farmington Hills and his daughter, Maureen Bauschke, 27, of Kalamazoo put a coat under Brown's head, as they and other spectators shielded him from runners.

Jim Young, 60, director of the 5K and half marathon portion of the race, stood over Fenlon as medical workers performed CPR. Young held out his arms, blocking Fenlon from other runners.

"I don't think they really knew," Young said.



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