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Published: Monday, 10/19/2009

Autopsies expected after 3 die during Detroit race


DETROIT — Autopsies were planned Monday a day after three half-marathoners collapsed during the Detroit marathon and died, organizers said.

Daniel Langdon, 36, of Laingsburg, collapsed at about 9:02 a.m. Sunday between the 11- and 12-mile markers, said Rich Harshbarger, vice president of consumer marketing for the Detroit Media Partnership.

Rick Brown, 65, of Marietta, Ohio, collapsed at 9:17 a.m., near where Langdon went down, and 26-year-old Jon Fenlon of Waterford collapsed at about 9:18 a.m., just after finishing the 13.1-mile half-marathon in 1:53:37, Harshbarger said.

Harshbarger told the Free Press that there were at least six medical stations on the race course and that emergency personnel were on the scene within seconds.

Every runner must sign a medical release form, and they are encouraged to talk to their doctors before they run the race, Harshbarger said.

“On a day when so many people bring such energy and challenge themselves to do their utmost, this news is very difficult to hear,” Free Press editor and publisher Paul Anger said. “Our deepest sympathies are with the families.”

The temperature was about 28 degrees when the marathon started and had risen to 41 degrees by 10 a.m. Running coach Keith Hanson said he doubted the weather had anything to do with the deaths.

“The wind never kicked up,” Hanson said. “In my mind, the conditions were perfect.”

Deaths at marathons are relatively rare. The last death at the Detroit event was in 1994 when a 42-year-old man died of a heart attack after running more than 20 miles.

More than 19,000 people were registered to participate in the 32nd Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon on Sunday.

Nicholas Stanko, of Haslett, Mich., took first place in the marathon with a time of 2:20:24. He said he was inspired by members of the track and cross country teams at Haslett High who came out to cheer him on. Stanko and his wife, Theresa, both teach and coach at

the school.

“I just tried to give them the best I could,” he said. “I ended up just holding on. You always just hold on by a thread at the end, and my thread didn't break today so I lucked out.”

Sarah Plaxton, of Highland, Mich., was the top female finisher in the marathon with a time of 2:57:09. The 41-year-old mother of three said she didn't realize how close she was to the lead runner until supporters lining the streets told her she was reeling in the leader with less than a quarter-mile to go.

“I was in shock, actually,” said Plaxton, who sprinted across the line for the win. “I didn't even see her until I turned the corner, and then I gave it everything I had.”

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