Detroit Marathon: 3 die

Posted: 10:54 a.m. Oct. 18, 2009 | Updated: 10:16 p.m. Oct. 18, 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.

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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.

Staff writers Bill Laitner, Eric Sharp, Tammy Stables Battaglia, Zlati Meyer, Amber Hunt, Gene Myers and Jo-Ann Barnas contributed to this report.

I read they all died before the half-way point.

Have as many people dropped during/after an endurance cycling event?

Some believe the heart benefits more from activities that create variability in heartrate
( like cycling ) and not steady state activities
( like jogging ) Thoughts?

There is a great deal of interest in this topic in recent years. I believe that intervals that vary the heart rate are far superior to steady state runs, which often preceed marathons. as these deaths were relatively early in the marathon, i wonder if these were more related to a pre-race training issue.

Most issues like this are due to lack of preparation and/or OVER-hydration. Some people are very naive when it comes to these long endurance races and they think just because they jog a little bit here and there and have a subscription to runners world they are qualified to run 26.2 miles. Additionally there was an article not too long back in runners world called something like “8 Weeks to your first ultra-marathon”, absolute stupidity.

I smell a “how not to die” ebook.

My observation is that at running club (not serious athelete) level, people running marathons are most comfortable off a large base of continous aerobic runs. You can only do the high mileage necessary to be comfortable at 3hrs + by running fairly easy.
eg 10-15miles is more specific that say 6x800.

I also observce that intervals over shorter distances benefit people running say 10K.

horses for courses as they say - or specificity of training.

See Frank Horwill and Seb Coe on multi pace training.

Some recent deaths in the UK were related to hydration problems.

I’ll be very short- Here it is… Don’t enter!
Of course, if you’re here, you prob feel that way already!

Living in the city, wonder if it was some “sniper” drug dealer whose supplier is Al-Qaeda

No, They died in the race, not of Detroit natural causes.

I take it from your post that you’d prefer at least the inclusion of extensive tempo (correct me, if I am wrong). Why is that specifically for marathons or any activity >10 K? And how much of it per session or times per week? Thanks!

Most people running marathons are rcreational and tempo keeps the overall volumes far lower and safer. Much of the damage I’ve seen with marathon runs occurs over the last few weeks of training where long preparatory runs are done.
We’ve had several clients who wanted to do the marathon (don’t ask me why) and so we just trained them as normal and they did the run. One girl had trained with her boyfriend for several months but he switched to traditional training a month out and she just stayed with tempo. On race day she went out together with him but left him over the second half and could have run faster, she felt, if she had left him earlier in the race.
Same for a 50 yr old who trained with us. He had a group of business associates who wanted to do it, so he agreed but stayed with his normal training, and beat them all anyway, leaving the rest of the group pretty pissed off.
Many who do the traditional final prep period become so blown out after the marathon itself that they have to stop training for months to recover.

Thanks, Charlie, interesting! I’ve seen what you describe in your last sentence… Although switching plans a month out wouldn’t be wise for any plan followed up to that point, do you believe the benefits from tempo training (e.g., average speed maintained, HRV, etc) readily apply to running events of such duration? What was the volume/session used in those cases?

Has anyone ever done an elite marathos (<2.15) or a good club performance (<3.00) off tempo running.

Any decent marathon training plan is based on

  • experienced runner who has mileage under their belt
  • tapers mileage in the last month
    reducing the chance of overtraining or burn out.

These are recreational marathoners who just need to stay in one piece.
It is seldom the top guys who die in races, it’s the guys who copy their training and haven’t got the physiology to back it up- or any reason to try.


You are 100% correct ! A runner at my club has worked as a volunteer doctor at marathons. During a very hot event she noticed the elite guys were ok, they just slowed down a bit but had the capability to hold it together. The guys dressed as bananas just walked ! The semi serious guys aiming for 3.nn pushed it in the heat without the requsite level of fitness and got wasted !

By the way, slightly off topic, but related to your comment about a marathon runner joining your training group. Whilst I advocate fairly high mileage for marathon running - it is not the ideal for middle age / recreational health.
I have been using the principles of the GPP video recently. Whilst I have a long way to go in my pitiful attempt at converting from distance running to sprinting I have noticed considerable all round fitness benefits. Amongst other things a loss of 6lbs and a return to my best racing weight of 15 years ago when I was running up to 40 miles per week. Something about the combination of tempo/core/med ball/weights seems to work.
A must for all 50 Year olds !!

Galloway’s Book On Running
This is a must read for People wanting to run marathons.

He talks on Base training, Hills training and speed training. Talks on recovery, easy weeks and nutrition.

He bases his training off Low weekly milage (compared to the norm).

example on beginner who just wants to FINNISH a marathon

Sun - Long run, Progressive over the season, starting short, say 2miles, and working up to 10% OVER race distance by 3-4wks out from project race (over say a 30wks period). The PACE must be kept SLOW. Focus on Just making the distance.

mon - warm up, warm down

Tue - 2 - 4 mile easy run during which your working on drills for form

Wed - Warm up warm down

thurs - 2-4 mile easy run working on drills

Fri - warm up / down

Sat - Off

This is Just to Finnish it.

For running a Marathon in 4hrs, He covers Hill trainnig volumes also, and Speed work volumes. Typically, 1-15wks of similar running as shown above, then wks 16 - 18 involving HILLS, then the remainder 19-32wks involving speed work.

However, his speed work as he says is taxing, so too is the Distance work (the long slow runs).
so what he does is
Week 19 = Long slow run week (sun only) rest of wk is similar to above example
week 20 = speed training week (again sun only) and again rest of wk is similar to above
wk 21 = long slow run
wk 22 = speed wk
etc etc

Also check out Better Training For Distance Runners by Seb Coe’s Father.
In it, its a very holistic approach.

Beginner though, would be better suited to the 1st book.

what sort of volumes were you doing in tempo? How did you address the difference issue of simply moving and being on your your legs for 3+ hours? :confused:

Book by Seb Coe`s father - excellent. As you might expect more orientated to shorter (middle distance) training.

Have not read the Galloway book. His volume looks very low. 2 x 2-4m plus 1 long run is nothing, depends on what the warm up warm down days mean.
I would be surprised if many people can hit 4hrs on a slight increase from that.
More typical for a runner aiming for sub 4 hrs is a weekly diet of:
2 x 5M
1 x 8m
1 x long run, 10M increasing to at least 18M.
Possibly a 5th run of long intervals, eg 5x1000. Or long hills. Total of 6M
Weekly total = 34-42.
One of my group who hit 2.55 was going above this volume.

Interested to see what level of sprinters tempo equates to this.

I looked at his chart for a sub 2hr 50min marathon, your volume seems about right. Esp during wk days. The only thing you’ll find is every other wk, volume will get slightly longer each wk till one is running just over race distance in the LONG RUN.

Very good book on Low Volume.
He even has Training charts for those wishing to break 2hrs 38min! Much like CF’s charts on S-l and L-s for sprinters.

A bit about Jeff (from his book) - After competing at olympic level 10k, he started a program involving more rest and less weekly mileage, couples with a long run every other week and at the age of 35 ran the houston-teenneco marathon in 2hrs 16.