Penn student who died finishing Marathon remembered

November 21, 2011 3:30:16 PM PST
Friends of University of Pennsylvania student Jeff Lee are struggling with his sudden death at the Philadelphia Marathon."It's been tough and we've been doing the best as you can do in a situation like this," roommate Scott Lee said.

"It's a little bit unreal still; I think everyone is quite shocked, we're doing well," friend. Samantha Shen.

They say the 21-year-old native of California was among the brightest on the Penn campus; he was a dual major in Nursing and Business, who already had a corporate finance job lined up at Microsoft.

"The only thing more impressive than his GPA was his personality and he's just one of the nicest, kindest, one of the most considerate young men I ever met and it was a real pleasure to be his roommate," Scott said.

"He ran with the goal in mind and that's exactly what he did throughout life," friend Harmony Lee.

Lee had just crossed the finish line during the half marathon on Sunday when he collapsed and went into cardiac arrest.

He died later at Hahnemann Hospital.

His friends say he was excited for his first half marathon, but extensive interviews and recruiting for life after college cut into his training.

"He had not trained probably as much as he should have," Harmony said.

Lee's friends say he was committed to his faith in God.

They all were members of the Renewal Presbyterian Church in West Philadelphia. It's that shared faith that is helping them deal with the loss.

One biblical verse that continues to echo through Harmony Lee's mind is 2 Timothy 4:7.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

"We miss him and we can't wait to see him again in heaven," Samantha said.

Jeff Lee was one of two men to die at the race.

40-year-old G. Chris Gleason of Clifton Park, New York, suffered an apparent heart attack a quarter mile from the finish line.

Melanie Johnson, the Executive Director for the marathon issued this statement on Sunday:

"Philadelphia Marathon and Philadelphia Half Marathon organizers extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the two runners who lost their lives at the Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon today. We are deeply saddened and our thoughts are with their families and friends. We cannot at this time disclose the identities of the runners pending notification of the families. We will provide more information as it becomes available. Our thoughts remain with the runners' families and friends."

Many people at the marathon were unaware that anything occurred. One runner said due to the comfortable weather, the incident was very shocking.

"It was perfect running weather, ideal for any runner. You would expect it more if there was really high humidity and hot conditions" said Jamie DiMeglio.

Most of the other runners who finished the race had no idea what had happened.

"You see people as you go that either fall over or they're in a lot of pain, but nothing specific," said Mike Gorman

Learning of the deaths dampened the excitement of runners who just moments earlier had been basking in their own accomplishments.

"Maybe they had a pre-existing condition, and with 26.2 miles or even with the half marathon at 13.6 miles, you are really pushing your body," said Jim Wendolek.

"It's terrible," said Vanessa Sterner. "You can be in the best of shape, and unfortunate things can happen. It's sad. It just makes me a little bit sad."


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