Tom Fleming, a New Jersey legend in the running community and two-time winner of the New York City Marathon, collapsed and died at a track meet Wednesday afternoon.
The Montclair Kimberley Academy announced the death of Fleming, 65, Thursday morning, saying he died of an apparent heart attack at a high school meet in Verona, N.J. Fleming, whom the New York Road Runners called “an “iconic figure” in NYC Marathon history, collapsed as he got out of his car, Newark Central Coach Bruce Berry told NJ.com, and was given CPR and defibrillation for more than 20 minutes. He had a pulse when he was taken to Mountainside Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
It is with an incredibly heavy heart that I share the news that MKA Cross Country/Track Coach Tom Fleming (65) passed away this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/nglWrY22C4
— MKA Athletics (@MKAAthletics) April 20, 2017
On a chilly day, Fleming, cross country and track coach who also taught fourth grade at the middle school, had returned to his car to wait for the end of the javelin competition to end during the meet at Verona High, which does not allow track events to go on concurrently with the javelin. When it was time to report to the track, Berry said Fleming opened his car door and collapsed as he stepped out.
— Zach Miller (@ByZachMiller) April 20, 2017
Fleming was inducted into the Road Runners Club of America Distance Running Hall of Fame in 2013 and the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in 2014. He became the MKA coach in 2000.
— John Connolly (@connman22) April 20, 2017
In addition to winning the NYC Marathon in 1973 and 1975, he finished second twice in the Boston Marathon and won marathons in Cleveland, Washington, Toronto, Los Angeles and on the Jersey Shore. He finished fifth in the 1976 Olympic trials and had a personal best of 2:12.05 at the 1975 Boston race, which still ranks among the top 40 in American history.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Tom Fleming,” New York Road Runners wrote on Facebook. “As a two-time New York City Marathon champion and top local runner, Tom was an iconic figure in our history and a beloved teacher, coach and mentor to many young people over the years.”
— NJ MileSplit (@NJMileSplit) April 20, 2017
“He’s someone that will be missed in Essex County track and field,” John Tonero, the former Vailsburg coach and Essex County Track Coaches Association treasurer, told NJ.com. “Tom was very passionate about the sport. He’ll just be surely missed. We’re all in shock.”