MONTCLAIR, N.J. — Tom Fleming, the New York City Marathon winner in 1973 and 1975 and twice a Boston Marathon runner-up, 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 coach and recently taught fourth grade.
Newark Central coach Bruce Berry told NJ.com that Fleming said 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 taken to a hospital.
Fleming’s 1975 NYC Marathon victory marked the last year the race was run entirely through Central Park. It expanded to the five boroughs the next year because of the growing number of runners.
New York Road Runners, organizer of the city’s 26.2-mile event, called Fleming an “iconic figure” in the race’s history.
Fleming also won marathons in Cleveland, Washington, Los Angeles and Toronto. He placed fifth at the 1976 Olympic marathon trials. He finished second at the Boston Marathon in 1973 and 1974 and six times was in the top 10.
“He was known for his working-class disposition and his quotable remarks, among which he said: ‘Somewhere, someone in the world is training when you are not. When you race him, he will win,”’ the Boston Athletic Association, the race organizer, said in a statement.
Fleming lived in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and began his competitive distance running in his junior year at the town’s high school. He then ran at Paterson State College and graduated in 1973.
Fleming was the USA Track and Field national distance coach from 1991 to 1997. 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.
“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, Montclair Kimberley’s athletic director.