Runner Dies During Marine Corps Marathon

By Rich Campbell
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, October 30, 2006

A runner in the Marine Corps Marathon died yesterday afternoon after collapsing during the race.

Earl Seyford, 56, of Olney, collapsed just before Mile 17 of the 26.2-mile course at approximately 12:20 p.m. He was airlifted from the 14th Street Bridge to Washington Hospital Center, according to race spokeswoman Beth Cline.

A hospital spokeswoman confirmed that Seyford died at 1:10 p.m. but would not provide more details. A D.C. police spokesman said Seyford suffered what appeared to be "a heart attack or a stroke."

"Anytime we lose an athlete, a marathon runner, in our sport, it hurts," race director Rick Nealis said. "It's tragic. Our sympathies go out to his family."

In the 31-year history of the Marine Corps Marathon, Seyford is the fifth runner to die during the race, according to Nealis. A sixth death, the most recent, occurred two days after the 2002 race when 35-year old Hilary Bellamy of Bethesda died of hyponatremia -- a sodium imbalance brought on by excess fluid consumption. Bellamy had dropped out of the race near the finish to seek medical attention.

Another male runner, who is unidentified, collapsed approximately 80 meters into the race at about 8:30 a.m. His condition was unavailable.

Jaimee Joroff, a Prince George's County firefighter, had just begun the race when she and a Fairfax County medic saw the man lying on the ground.

A nurse and doctor were attending to the man when he stopped breathing and lost his pulse, Joroff said. Joroff happened to have her CPR breathing mask with her, so she performed CPR breathing on the man while the other medic performed chest compressions until paramedics arrived. The man was transported by ambulance to George Washington Hospital, according to Cline. Joroff resumed and completed the marathon.

"It was really surreal," she said.

Staff writer Eli Saslow contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company