NPR logo Detroit Marathon Deaths A Stunning Result


Detroit Marathon Deaths A Stunning Result

Ask virtually anyone who's run a marathon and they'll tell you how physically stressful it is to run 26.2 miles all at once.

Which is why many runners decide to do half marathons.

So the deaths of three runners who ran a half marathon during Sunday's Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon is likely to give pause to more than a few people interested in running the 13.1 mile distance.

It's also nothing short of bizarre for three runners to collapse and die in short order as they did Sunday in the Detroit marathon. Indeed, while deaths do happen in long-distance running events, a race can go years without a death.

The last time a runner died in the Detroit race was 15 years ago.

The Detroit Free Press reports that three men, ages 26, 36 and 65, died within minutes of each other near or at the finish line.

The Freep reports:

It had been a chilly, but buoyant morning. And then tragedy hit at 9:02 a.m.

That's when Daniel Langdon, 36, of Laingsburg collapsed on Michigan Avenue between the 11- and 12-mile markers as he ran Sunday in the Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon, according to Rich Harshbarger, vice president of consumer marketing for the Detroit Media Partnership, which handles business operations for the Free Press and Detroit News.

Fifteen minutes later, at 9:17 a.m, 65-year-old Rick Brown of Marietta, Ohio, collapsed near where Langdon went down, Harshbarger said.

And then Jon Fenlon, 26, of Waterford collapsed at about 9:18 a.m., just after finishing the half-marathon in 1:53:37, Harshbarger said.

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

More than 19,000 people were registered to run the Detroit race.

Sunday's deaths were a reminder of the legendary ancient inspiration for the marathon when a messenger ran from the plains of Marathon to Athens to tell the Greeks their army had prevailed over a vastly larger Persian force. According to legend, the messenger died upon delivering his message: "Rejoice, we conquer."

The Des Moines, Iowa marathon which was also run on Sunday, saw a different, and blessedly, more benign stress.

According to the Associated Press, the leaders of that race were delayed for about a minute when they had to wait a minute for freight train to pass.

This experience won't be unfamiliar to many Midwest residents who have mused on the benefits of tunnels and bridges as they sat at the lowered gates at the rail crossing waiting for a lengthy freight train to finally pass.