Heat forces early end to marathon

Unseasonably warm weather forced officials to call an early end to the Chicago Marathon this afternoon.

One person died during the race and over 300 were treated by paramedics. Nearly 50 were hospitalized, said race director Carey Pinkowski.
A bystander cools down a runner during the marathon. Photo by Erin Drewitz.

"Given the weather conditions I thought it was prudent" to end the race early, said Pinkowski, who called the day "brutally hot."

According to Accuweather.com, the high today reached 87 degrees, 20 degrees warmer than the normal high temperature.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office described the single fatality as a man in his 30's.

He collapsed while running and did not have a pulse when emergency response personnel arrived, said Dr. George Chiampas, Medical Director of the marathon.

"It's a sad day for us," said Pinkowski.

As temperatures rose, officials responded by increasing the number of cooling stations from five to 20 and adding emergency watering stations.

Ultimately, though, Pinkowski said he decided to cancel the race out of concern for the safety of the participants.

"There's some ill will," he said.

"It's disappointing for people to stop the race but at the same time it's understandable," said runner Mary Lamont, who came from London to run and had completed about 16 miles when the race was called off.

Platt said 35,867 runners began the race and 24,933 had completed the 26.2 mile race by the time it was called off.

Today's fatality was the first suffered during the Chicago Marathon since 2003, Platt said.

About one person in 50,000 dies during marathons worldwide, said Dr. Chiampas.

The first fatality occurred in 490 B.C.

According to legend, the race is called a marathon in honor of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, who ran the 26.2 miles between the Greek cities of Marathon and Athens to announce a Greek victory against the Persians.

After announcing the victory, Pheidippides collapsed and died.