Share This Page

2 runners die at end of Philly marathon

Two runners died on Sunday in the Philadelphia Marathon, where unseasonably warm and humid conditions made the grueling 26.2-mile event even more difficult.

"It was warmer than it should have been," said Kevin Smith, owner of Elite Runners and Walkers in Robinson, who organized an outing to the marathon for 34 local runners. "A lot of runners were going down at the finish line. A lot. The heat took its toll."

Temperatures were in the low 60s at the end of the race, about 10 degrees above normal.

Race officials did not release the victims' names pending family notification.

"We are deeply saddened, and our thoughts are with their families and friends," Melanie Johnson, executive director of The Philadelphia Marathon Race Weekend, said in a statement.

Officer Jillian Russell, a police spokeswoman, said a 21-year-old man collapsed at the finish line on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and a 40-year-old man collapsed about a quarter-mile before the finish line.

Russell said both were taken to nearby Hahnemann University Hospital, where they were pronounced dead of apparent heart attacks.

Smith saw the 21-year-year old collapse.

"I didn't realize he'd died until later," he said last night by cell phone as he and the group rode a bus back to Pittsburgh.

"We advised our runners to listen to their bodies (and) definitely go out slower for the first half," he said. "Especially under the conditions, you are pushing your body beyond what you normally do."

More than 25,000 runners participated in the marathon.

Anyone can sign up, and sometimes people who do not train properly get into trouble during the endurance test, Smith said.

"With a race of that size, you get a lot of new runners that maybe have never run a race and don't understand the stresses on the body," he said.

Philadelphia race organizers had many emergency services personnel at the finish line, and they acted quickly when a runner needed help, he said.

Kate Hrach, 41, an emergency medicine doctor at UPMC Passavant in McCandless, ran her first marathon yesterday. She paid close attention to hydration and indicators of heat- and fatigue-related stress.

"As a doctor, I understand the stress on the body the marathon causes," she said. "There's no screening of people to see who's fit. I see a lot of older runners, people overdoing it on the course."

Dave Hufnagel, 24, of Finleyville said he "didn't push it too hard" in running his first marathon.

"It's really sad they died," he said. "Everybody who does this stuff, they're all great people. I'm sure they had family out there watching. It's just devastating. I couldn't imagine it."

Moon native Samantha Howard, a former Duquesne University runner, finished fifth among women at 2:45:45, good enough to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.