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Jim Fixx, redux?

Two runners die during Los Angeles Marathon

March 20, 2006

Two men, both veteran law enforcement officers, suffered fatal heart attacks while running in Sunday's Los Angeles Marathon, marking the first deaths in the event since 1990, organizers said on Monday.

Los Angeles police detective Raul Reyna, 53, and retired Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy James Leone, 60, are believed to be the second and third contestants in the 21-year history of the L.A. Marathon to die during the 26.2-mile (40-km) race.

Marathon officials said the only other runner known to have died in the race was 59-year-old William McKinney, who suffered a heart attack 21 miles into the competition in 1990.

Reyna collapsed 3 miles into the race. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Leone was stricken less than 3 miles from the finish line and died at a local hospital, officials said.

A third man had a heart attack about seven blocks into the race but survived.

Sunday's race was won by Benson Cherono of Kenya, who crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 8 minutes and 40 seconds to set a new course record. Lidiya Grigoryeva of Russia was the women's winner with a time of 2 hours, 25 minutes, 10 seconds -- a course record for female runners.

She also won a $100,000 bonus as the first runner to cross the finish in a separate competition within the marathon, the Banco Popular Challenge, in which the women were given a 16-minute, 46-second head start.
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