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Record Heat Halts Chicago Marathon

Ethiopia's Berhane Adere collapses briefly after winning the women's title in the Chicago Marathon. About 50 runners were hospitalized.
Ethiopia's Berhane Adere collapses briefly after winning the women's title in the Chicago Marathon. About 50 runners were hospitalized. (By Brian Jackson -- Sun-times Via Associated Press)

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VIDEO | Chicago Marathon officials defended their decision to run Sunday's race, which ended with a Michigan runner dead and hundreds more needing medical attention.
By Caryn Rousseau
Associated Press
Monday, October 8, 2007

CHICAGO, Oct. 7 -- A Michigan man died Sunday while running the Chicago Marathon as 88-degree heat and smothering humidity forced organizers to shut down the course midway through the race. At least 49 runners were taken to hospitals because of heat-related ailments; hundreds more were treated on site.

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Almost 10,000 of the 45,000 registered runners chose not to race in the heat despite the addition of more mist stations, cooling buses and water-soaked sponges. Shortages of water and energy drinks were reported along the 26.2-mile route.

Chad Schieber, 35, of Midland, Mich., collapsed while running on the South Side and was pronounced dead at a Veterans Affairs hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

The temperature was a record for the Chicago Marathon, topping the previous mark of 84 degrees in 1979. Ailing runners were diverted to the starting area, where they were provided with medical attention and cooling misters.

At first, organizers hoped those who passed the halfway mark could complete the run. But eventually even those recreational runners were told to turn back.

"We're seeing a lot of our participants slowing," said race director Carey Pinkowski. "It was a contingency plan we had in place, and we decided to implement as a precautionary measure."

Some runners persevered, although organizers said they did not know how many completed the race. Helicopters hovered over the course while police officers shouted through a bullhorn and warned runners to slow down and walk.

Lori Kaufman, a runner from St. Louis, said she was told to start walking at mile 14. She said the fire department turned on hydrants to hose down people along the course.

Paul Gardiner, a runner from England, said the weather made for a "brutal" run.

"We were at about 18 miles and we heard they canceled it, and that kind of sent a little bit of concern through the crowd," he said. "It's just impossible to run."

Kenya's Patrick Ivuti won the marathon in 2 hours 11 minutes 11 seconds. Competing in only his second major marathon, Ivuti leaned at the finish line to edge Jaouad Gharib of Morocco by 0.05 seconds. Ethiopia's Berhane Adere rallied to successfully defend her women's title with a time of 2 hours 33 minutes 49 seconds.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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