Jan 17, 2000

Sheldon Karlin, 1950-2000

One of my oldest and closest friends, Sheldon Karlin, winner of the 1972 New York Marathon and participant in three Olympic Trials Marathons, died Sunday [January 16th] of an apparent heart attack while taking a walk through his neighborhood. He was 49.

Although we never really thought of it this way, he'd been in failing health for years. Five or six years ago he had some chest pains while running and learned that he had blockage in all of his arteries. He had lots of treatment, a very low cholesterol level, and was on a restricted diet and medication.

He continued to run and on the Friday before Thanksgiving was starting a run with his oldest son when he felt more chest tightness and exhaustion. He stopped after a half-mile and went home. It was to be his last run.

When we visited on New Year's Day, Shelly was trying to decide whether or not to have a bypass done. He'd seen five doctors. Three told him he didn't need the surgery and shouldn't have it done, while two recommended a bypass.

I believe that he now has the dubious distinction of being the first winner of the New York City Marathon to die. Every now and again Runner's World publishes an article from some runner who felt chest pains while running, goes to a doctor, finds some problem, gets treated and goes on to enjoy years of healthy running and living. I'm thrilled for all of them, but there are no guarantees. (Rich Englehart, Newburyport, Massachusetts)

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