So I just found that a runner in the Marathon I ran this weekend passed away. Ulysses “Tom” Thomas was running in his very first marathon. He hailed from Mauldin, South Carolina and him and wife traveled from there to Savannah for the race. According to his wife, he was the “picture of perfect health.” I sad to learn of this man’s death and my heart goes out to his family. He leaves behind his wife, two adult children, 4 grand children and 6 sisters. Tom spent 21 years in the US Air Force and retired in 1993.
Marathon running has had its share of tragedies and quite a few recently. Though deaths from running a marathon are rare, they do occur. Recently, a runner died just 500 yards short of the finish line in Chicago. On October 30, 2011 a runner died in the Rock and Roll Marathon in Los Angeles and this past weekend in Savannah. There have been more in recent years and that is probably due to the uptick in the numbers of people deciding to run a marathon.
As I stated, deaths during marathons are not unheard of but they are rare. A recent study by the American College of Cardiology reported that the risk of sudden death during a marathon is 0.8 per 100,000 people. In comparison, the risk of dying in childbirth is 13 per 100,000 births and the risk of dying from diabetes is 23 per 100,000. The risk of dying in a car accident is 1 in 6,700.
So is running a marathon or a half marathon dangerous. Of course there is some level of danger. No matter how healthy you are, you are putting your body under and extreme amount of stress. Vital organs, one of those being your heart, is working overtime trying to deal with the punishment that you are inflicting to yourself. There is evidence that runners in half marathons and marathons have higher blood levels of troponin and other blood markers of hearth disease post marathon. These are the same markers that hospitals look at it to determine if someone has had a heart attack.
So is running a marathon or a half marathon dangerous. Absolutely, but by the numbers, it is far more dangerous to be driving a car. I would give that up long before I gave up running.