- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Hilary Bellamy of Silver Spring died yesterday, two days after dropping out of Sunday's Marine Corps Marathon shortly after covering 21 miles.

She died yesterday at Georgetown University Hospital after life support was withdrawn.

"When she left the race, she was conscious," race director Rick Nealis said. "I understand that she died from complications at the hospital."

Bellamy, 35, was a member of the National AIDS Marathon Training Program, attempting her first 26-mile, 385-yard race.

Results of an autopsy, expected today, hopefully will explain Bellamy's death, the fifth participant to die in the 27-year history of the Marine Corps Marathon.

Nealis said that he had conflicting information, but he did confirm that Bellamy was taken from the course, by ambulance, to Georgetown University Hospital. At some point, she slipped into a coma and was kept alive for organ donor reasons.

"It bothers me anytime anybody dies," said Nealis as he grappled with the situation last night.

What is clear is that Bellamy had been on the course from the 8:30a.m. start until 1:45p.m. She passed 10 kilometers in 1:19:54, the halfway mark in 2:52:55 and the 18-mile point in 4:02:19, on a pace just a bit slower than her expected finishing time of 5:45:50.

In recent marathons run elsewhere, some runners have died of hyponatremia, a potentially fatal condition which occurs when an excess of water is consumed, blood sodium levels are diluted and ultimately the brain begins to swell. Those runners were on the course four or more hours and drank as much water as possible.

After April's Boston Marathon, the state Medical Examiner's Office in Massachusetts concluded that a 28-year-old female runner who collapsed four miles from the finish perished from hyponatremia.

Michael Cover, executive director of the Whitman Walker Clinic, sponsor of the AIDS training group, said he understood that Bellamy's death was unrelated to running the marathon.

Cover said that Bellamy was one of 825 program members who participated in the Marine Corps Marathon this year. The program also sends runners to marathons in Baltimore and Dublin, Ireland.

"We have had 10,500 participants total in the five years we have had the training program and this is the first death," Cover said.

Charity training programs have brought hundreds of thousands of runners to the sport in the past decade, with runners raising millions of dollars. This year, the Marines allotted nearly 25 percent of their slots to charity runners.

The number of fatalities among marathoners is six to eight a year, out of more than 420,000 finishers, according to Ryan Lamppa of U.S. Track & Field's Road Running Information Center.

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