This story has been archived from the Monday, August 22, 2005

Running secondary to helping out


Edward Corley has taught CPR classes for 14 years.

“But I never, ever had to use it,” he said.

Until Sunday.

Corley was running in the Pikes Peak Marathon, about 2.5 miles from the summit, when he turned a bend and saw runner Gary Williams surrounded by a small crowd.

It was, Corley said, approximately 10:55 a.m., nearly four hours after the start.

Williams had suffered an apparent heart attack. Corley, a personal injury/bankruptcy lawyer, immediately switched from runner to helper.

He spent the next 90 minutes trying to save Williams’ life. It was, ultimately, a futile effort.

Williams died, a jolting intrusion into a day usually reserved for jubilation.

Marathon day is filled with celebration. Runners rejoice after meeting personal goals. Runners pose for photos with happy relatives. Runners weep after realizing they conquered that huge mountain.

The finish line in downtown Manitou Springs is a place of laughter and hugs. The long, steep course is filled with chatter among runners, who try to ease their pain through camaraderie.

Death invaded this happy scene.

At about 11 a.m., Nancy Hobbs of Colorado Springs ran past the group that was treating Williams. Word of a stricken runner already had reached her small pack.

“It was heart-wrenching,” Hobbs said. “It can happen to anyone at anytime.”

She and her fellow runners passed Williams in silence.

“Out of respect,” she said.

Other runners followed her example. During the tense minutes Corley kneeled beside Williams, he said he did not hear a word from the long procession of runners.

“It was,” he said, “rather silent.”

When Corley realized he could do no more to help Williams, he returned to his original quest.

He finished the marathon.

“I don’t know why,” he said. “I just wanted to keep it going.”

Mark McCaulley is a doctor who specializes in internal medicine in Steamboat Springs. He also halted his run to try to revive Williams.

So did Chris Reveley of Salt Lake City and Jill Hudson, a registered nurse from Benton, Ark.

They tried to save Williams and then returned to running.

McCaulley was crossing Hoosier Pass on his drive home when he was reached on his cell phone.

“I live with people living and dying all the time,” he said of his minutes with Williams. “But, emotionally, this was very challenging.”

Corley understands.

He works in Columbus, Ohio, and he traveled to Colorado Springs for a break from the flatlands. He wanted to run through the clouds.

On his descent, Corley listened to race workers shout “thank you” as they handed him glasses of water. The workers had been told he had tried to help.

He finally finished at 6:05 p.m. As he ran down Ruxton Avenue, surrounded by twilight shadows, a couple of dozen spectators clapped and shouted their support.

Corley was one of the final finishers. He didn’t mind his late arrival. He was just happy to end his journey.

He was smiling at the finish line, the scene of so much glee during this sad day.

Columnist David Ramsey can be reached at 476-4895 or

Copyright 2005, The Gazette, a division of Freedom Colorado Information. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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