A 16-year-old girl has died after completing the 2014 Virginia Beach Shamrock Half-Marathon. The teen, Cameron Gallagher, finished the race but fell ill afterwards and was taken to a first aid tent. Due to a medical emergency at the tent Gallagher was transported to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, where she died.
Gallagher, from the Richmond, Virginia area, was a student at Douglas Freeman High School. She was very athletic and active; she played softball and was a swimmer at St. Gertrude, her former high school. Gallagher later transferred to Douglas Freeman from St. Gertrude High School where she also swam during the past season with Douglas Freeman’s club team.
Kelly Gdovic, another participant, was a mere 20 seconds behind Gallagher as they neared the end of the 13.1 mile run. Gdovic said as soon as Gallagher crossed the finish line she collapsed and appeared to be unconscious as race officials tended to her. There were thousands of runners who completed the half-marathon at Virginia Beach’s Oceanfront on Sunday.
The Shamrock Marathon is the brainchild of Jerry Bocrie and was established in 1973. Bocrie and his wife Lori served as race directors for 30 years. The initial marathon began with 59 participants and ended with 38 finishers. The first weekend included one, two and six-mile races.
In 1976 the six-mile run transitioned to an 8k and is still a part of the weekend’s events. By 1982 the annual Shamrock Marathon, which was in its 10th year, was declared the Largest Sporting Event in Virginia with the first post party being added in 1984. World class athletes such as Jeff Galloway, Bill Rodgers and Grete Waitz had joined in on the competition by running at least one of Shamrock races.
The Shamrock Sportsfest really took off in the 90s. Runner’s World recognized the Shamrock Marathon as one of the Top 20 marathons in the entire country and as the “Cream of the crop” race to run on St. Patrick’s Day Weekend. In 1996 ESPN included the Shamrock Marathon on its Running and Racing program.
Jerry and Amy Frostick took over in 2003 when the Shamrock Sportsfest was in its 31st year. By this time the event had three races and nearly 5,000 participants. Since that time the Frosticks have grown the weekend Sportsfest to a world-class event with five races and well over 24,000 participants. During their tenure as race directors three world records and 32 national records have been set while several participants have qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Gallagher participated in the half-marathon which is a loop course that takes runners north from the Virginia Beach resort area through residential neighborhoods and then along beautiful Shore Drive. It then heads toward Ft. Story’s Joint Expeditionary Base and on past the oldest standing light house in the USA, Cape Henry light house.
Afterwards the course heads south towards the famous Virginia Beach Boardwalk, passing the majestic King Neptune statue for its finish with the beautiful Ocean as a backdrop where runners and guests will find a Shamrock post race party right on the beach.
This year’s ending in Virginia Beach was something no one envisioned. A 16-year-old runner died after she completed a half-marathon. Although crews worked hard to save the young girl’s life, Cameron Gallagher was rushed to the hospital and declared dead a short time later.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)