Friends and relatives are remembering William Loman as a guy who loved to run.
"Willy was always up for a few quick miles," said Howard Wagner, Loman's former boss and occasional running partner. "I still can't believe he's gone."
Loman, 32, died Sunday morning at a local 5K race. A preliminary report from the coroner's office indicates that the cause of death was thirst.
According to race photography and eyewitness accounts, Loman showed up at the event, the Parkway Promenade 5K and Family Fun Run, without his customary hydration backpack and handheld water bottle. It remains unclear whether he forgot those items at home or left them behind deliberately, intending to run the entire 5K "dry"—a feat that many in the running community liken to summiting Mount Everest without oxygen.
Whatever the reason, witnesses say Loman was already showing signs of distress before the 1-mile mark. Course marshals said he appeared confused and disoriented, slowing and almost stumbling several times.
Officials speculate that in his dehydration-induced delirium, Loman ignored—or perhaps didn't even notice—the aid station at that first mile marker as well as the next, at mile two.
"Our folks tried to offer him water," said race director Biff Loman (no relation), "but he just stared ahead and staggered on."
Minutes later, he was gone.
It's estimated that Loman ran for nearly 19 minutes without a drop of liquid—and many are amazed that he made it that long. Experts recommend carrying water or sports drink on any run of any distance, citing the crucial need to stay hydrated and fueled up.
Reaction to Loman's death among local runners ranged from shock to disbelief. At an impromptu vigil Sunday night, some comments were tinged with anger.
"Where was his CamelBak? His Fuel Belt? His handheld bottle?" asked a man who gave his name as Charley. "What was he thinking, going into a 5-kilometer run without water?"
"Or Nuun," added a nearby woman.
"Or Nuun!" Charley said. "Something!"
A memorial is planned for Tuesday evening, at a time and place to be announced. Because the service may last 30 minutes or longer, guests are encouraged to bring hydration systems and gels.