Marathons rarely life-threatening

Published Jul 5, 2012 at 05:00AM

When a runner dies in a race it generates enormous publicity. But, the actual risk of dying from running in a marathon is quite low, according to new research from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Looking at statistics from about 300 marathons in the United States per year, researchers found the number of finishers increased between 2000 and 2009, from 299,018 to 473,354. But a runner’s risk of dying during or soon after the 26.2-mile race has remained steady, at about .75 per 100,000 runners.

Men, according to the report published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, are twice as likely to die as women.

Researchers found that between 2000 and 2009, 28 people died during or in the 24 hours following a marathon. Half of those who died were over age 45, and all but one in the over-45 group had heart disease.

— Anne Aurand, The Bulletin