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Man dies after collapsing during Friday evening’s Full Moon 5K

By John Burbridge

CHARLES CITY — A Charles City man died after collapsing during Friday evening’s Full Moon 5K Run/Walk.

Javier Ruiz, 57, went down approximately midway through the course near the Immaculate Conception Ball Fields adjacent to Riverside Drive and the Cedar River.

Ruiz registered as a walker, but was walking at a brisker pace than most of the other walkers before experiencing difficulty breathing and then collapsing according to witness accounts, which also suggested that he may have hit his head on the pavement when going down. CPR was performed at the scene before Ruiz was transferred by ambulance to the Floyd County Medical Center where resuscitation efforts continued but Ruiz could not be revived.

The run/walk event was held during an overcast evening with chilled winds challenging participants along stretches of the course.

The Full Moon 5K was organized by the Charles City Community Fund, a non-profit organization that serves Floyd County by funding and supporting local agencies that provide essential needs and services to those going through difficult times, or youth and families in financial hardships.

The annual evening 5K was initially organized by Caring Connections Mentoring Program in 2013, and then later by Big Brothers Big Sisters, which has since closed its regional offices several years after discontinuing the road race in 2018. After a three-year hiatus, the CCCF took over and restarted the event in 2021.

The run/walk has been traditionally held in and around Wildwood Municipal Golf Course. This was the first Full Moon 5K held with the starting and finishing line in the parking lot of Tellurian Brewing located at South Main Street.

This year’s run/walk course utilized the bike and pedestrian trails along Cedar River and traversed once across the Charles City Suspension Bridge about a mile into the trek.

Nearly 150 runners and walkers registered for the event though there were several no-shows who may have been discouraged by Friday’s blustery conditions.

According to the National Library of Medicine, the overall incidence of death in running road races is approximately 3.1 per 1 million finishers, though the risk for 5K and 10K races is significantly lower than the risk for marathons and half-marathons.

Ruiz’s death was the first fatality at the Full Moon 5K.

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