MONTCLAIR, N.J. (AP) — Tom Fleming, a two-time winner of the New York City Marathon and twice a runner-up at the Boston Marathon, has died. He was 65.
Fleming died Wednesday of an apparent heart attack while coaching a middle school team at a meet in Verona, New Jersey, the Montclair Kimberley Academy said in a statement Thursday. He was the school’s varsity cross-country and track and field head coach and recently taught fourth grade.
Newark Central coach Bruce Berry told NJ.com that Fleming noted he felt ill, but was still “laughing and joking.” Fleming collapsed after getting out of his car, Berry said. He said Fleming was given CPR for more than 20 minutes and had a pulse when he was taken to a hospital.
Fleming won the New York City Marathon in 1973 and 1975, which was the last year the race was run entirely through Central Park. Due to the number of participants, it expanded to New York City’s five boroughs the next year.
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The New York Road Runners, which puts on the city’s 26.2-mile event, called Fleming “an iconic figure” in the race’s history.
Fleming finished second twice at the Boston Marathon and also won marathons in Cleveland, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Toronto. He placed fifth at the 1976 Olympic Marathon trials.
The Bloomfield, New Jersey, resident began his competitive distance running career in his junior year at the town’s high school and he continued at Paterson State College, where he graduated in 1973 with a double major in special education and elementary education.
He 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 Utica, New York, in 2014.
Fleming was the USA Track and Field national distance coach from 1991 to 1997.
“Tom’s love for his sport, love for his athletes and love for teaching the next generation of runners was truly remarkable,” said Todd Smith, the school’s athletic director.