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Runner dies after race

A 55-year-old runner in Saturday's 15-kilometer Gasparilla Distance Classic collapsed outside the post-race awards ceremony and later died.

Gary Peacock of Tampa fell at the bottom of stairs outside the Tampa Convention Center about 11:30 a.m., Tampa police said.

"Apparently he had run the 15K race and then after the race, over near the Convention Center, he collapsed. People immediately began giving him CPR," said Tampa police spokesman Steve Cole. "But there was no response.

"The ambulance then came, and all the way to the hospital he was given CPR. But apparently there was no response at all," Cole said.

Peacock, who police said had no known health problems, was pronounced dead at Tampa General Hospital. He reportedly had not seen a doctor in four years, said Lt. Hugh Miller. A cause of death was not available Saturday.

Race organizers said the Gasparilla race, Florida's largest and most prestigious running event, has never before had a fatality or even a serious injury among its participants.

"This is the first time. We've never had anything this serious happen at the race, but it's just a matter of time until these things happen," said Wayne Papy, vice president of the Gasparilla Distance Classic. About 13,400 participated in the event, which included 15K and 5K races.

"You never know what people are going to put their bodies through," Papy said. "People like to exercise and push themselves, but sometimes it's just too much."

Witnesses said Peacock was a large man.

"We caution people continuously in our literature," said Doug Hudson, race media coordinator. "It's a common sense thing."

A woman who answered the phone at Peacock's home Saturday declined to speak with a reporter.

_ Times staff writer Jackie Ripley and correspondent Terry Crews contributed to this story.