RALEIGH, N.C. – Authorities say two runners died near the finish line of a half marathon in Raleigh.
Race organizers said the mens' deaths in the 13.1-mile race Sunday morning appear to be from natural causes. More than 12,000 runners took part in either the half marathon or the full marathon.
"We are greatly saddened by these tragic losses and our prayers go out to the each of the runner's family and friends," Dr. P.Z. Pearce, medical director of the event, said in a statement. "We have spoken with each of the families and they have asked everyone to kindly respect their privacy during this most difficult of times."
The names and hometowns of the runners have not been released. A 35-year-old man collapsed between the 10- and 11-mile markers. A 31-year-old man died near the finish line. Both were taken to hospitals where they were pronounced dead.
Dr. Jeff Bytomski, head medical team physician at Duke University, said medical problems usually rise toward the end of the half-marathon. In news reports of deaths at races, most are said to occur near the finish line.
Bytomski said they may experience an adrenaline rush in the excitement of the race and decide to sprint in.Wake County EMS said they checked on 29 runners during the race and two spectators. Ten had to be taken to the hospital for various conditions, but most were heat or stress related due to the race.Temperatures for the race started in the 50s but moved into the 70s later in the morning.
While the deaths are statistically uncommon, races in the Rock ’n’ Roll series have reportedly been marred by such tragedies at least 12 times since 2005, including the two in Raleigh on Sunday.The Associated Press contributed to this report.