A 32-year-old man collapsed and died Sunday just after crossing the finish line during the Rock & Roll Half-Marathon in Dallas.
Mark Austry, a former baseball player who spent time with the Fort Worth Cats after playing for Texas Tech University and Arlington Heights High School, is survived by his wife, Mariana Alvarez Austry, and two daughters, Isabella and Anna.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
A witness said Austry collapsed right after crossing the finish line at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park. Dr. Lewis Maharam, the event's medical director, confirmed the eyewitness account.
"We are greatly saddened by this tragic loss and our prayers go out to the participant's family and friends," said Maharam. "We are in contact with the family, and they have requested privacy during this difficult time."
Since the news of Austry's passing, condolences have poured in.
“The Cats and their fans are saddened about the loss of Mark Austry,” said General Manager Dick Smith. “As a member of the first team of the 'new' Fort Worth Cats, he will always have a place in our hearts. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends.”
Austry played one season at first base for the Cats in 2001, batting .263 with 45 RBI in 70 games.
“No matter how long a player is a member of the Cats, whether it’s one year or many years, we consider all of them to be a part of the family," said Carl Bell, Cats owner. "I was deeply saddened when I saw the news of Mark’s passing, and on behalf of our entire organization, our thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends that will miss him so much.”
When asked for more information about the runner, race spokesman Dan Cruz said, "Out of respect for the family's request for privacy, we will not be granting any interviews or providing any additional information aside from our public statement."
Austry, of Lantana, was a former Texas Tech baseball player, according to the school’s Web site. The Fort Worth native lettered at Texas Tech between 1998 and 2000 after transferring from coastal Carolina.
"On behalf of Texas Tech University, and all of Red Raider nation, we extend our deepest sympathies to the Austry family. Mark was a great person and will be sorely missed," said Gerald Myers, Texas Tech athletic director, in a statement.
Austry was also part of the 1996 Arlington Height High School state champion baseball team.
The inaugural Rock & Roll Half-Marathon benefited the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Organizers said more than 20 live bands provided entertainment along each mile of the 13.1-mile course. About 12,000 people participated from 47 states and 10 countries, organizers said.
Austry's death isn't the first related to marathon-running locally.
In December, 2008, a 29-year-old Austin woman running in the Dallas White Rock Marathon collapsed and died. Erin Lahr's cause of death was later determined to be from cardiac arrhythmia.
On a Web site dedicated to Lahr's memory, her widower Jeff writes, "If there was anyone who was a picture of health, it was Erin. She ate right. She exercised. This was not supposed to happen to her."
A 20-year study on London Marathon runners found that, with a rate of death of 1 in 67,414, marathon-running was no more dangerous than many other daily activities.
An autopsy is scheduled to be performed Monday to determine the exact cause of Austry's death, the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office said.