Runners concerned about marathon deaths

October 20, 2009 7:31:19 AM PDT
One thing you're guaranteed to see this time of year is Houstonians training for January's Chevron Houston Marathon. The 26.2 mile stretch is on many people's to do list as something they want to conquer. With this weekend's deaths of three runners in the Detroit Marathon, that's something Houston's running community is talking about.

Autopsies are underway for the three men who collapsed and died in Sunday's Detroit Free Press Marathon. Here in Houston, the managing director of the Chevron Houston Marathon says there has been one death in the race's nearly four decade long history. The man was running the 5k race.

However, the deaths are not stopping local runners for lacing up their shoes as marathon training is well underway these days at Memorial Park.

"It's going good. I did 14.7 miles Saturday," said Vanessa Quinones.

She is training for her first marathon in January, the 38th Chevron Houston Marathon.

"I turn 40 three weeks after the marathon so you know this is something I want to accomplish before I hit 40," said Quinones.

Her story isn't that different from Daniel Langdon, of Laingsburg, Michigan, who ran his first half-marathon on Sunday, his 36th birthday. But Langdon was never to see the finish line. He collapsed and died near the 12-mile mark. He was one of three runners to die in the Detroit Free Press Marathon and Half Marathon.

Langdon's widow talked about the last time she saw him at mile eight.

"He was within two feet of me. I didn't touch him or grab him. I should have," said Becky Langdon.

The deaths have been all the talk among local runners.

"Do go for a checkup and do make sure the doctor has given you a thumbs-up," said Steven Karpas, Managing Director of the Houston Marathon.

Runners in the Houston race sign a waiver which says, in part, the runner will hold the marathon "harmless from any liability for injury" and "I do hereby waive and release all rights and claims," and that "I am physically fit and have or will have sufficiently trained."

Karpas said, "We're not looking to change anything with our race. We feel we have done a thorough job of protecting our runners."

John McClung works at Luke's Locker. He's training for his 26th consecutive Houston marathon and is taking the tragedies at Detroit in stride.

"You kind of have to not take it real seriously. It is something very important, but that's just part of exercise, sometimes things like that are going to happen," said McClung.

That's an attitude echoed by first-timer Quinones.

"I'm just excited about the marathon. I'm glad it's here and I'm hoping this won't be my last," she said.

The managing director of the Houston marathon told us that there will be about 300 medical personnel on the race course, and they don't anticipate any problems.

In the interest of full disclosure, ABC13 will broadcast live coverage of the Chevron Houston Marathon on January 17, 2010.

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