The former Navy shipmates of Jeffrey “FaFa” Woods paid tribute to him on their Facebook pages after learning the 58-year-old man collapsed and died Saturday during the Krispy Kreme Challenge charity run in downtown Raleigh.
Race organizers say Woods, who lived in Garner, dropped out of the race in the first mile of the five-mile event because of chest pains. Woods was taken to Rex Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the organizers said in a news release.
An autopsy is pending.
Woods was a native of Albuquerque, N.M., and served on the U.S.S. Farragut during the 1980s, according to his Navy buddies.
“We lost a shipmate yesterday,” wrote Bill Mielniczuk, who served aboard the Farragut with Woods, wrote Sunday. “I had the pleasure of serving with him on the Farragut in the early 80’s. RIP shipmate.”
Similar comments followed on the Facebook page, “USS Farragut Vets and Friends,” which pictured a white-gloved sailor saluting with his head bowed.
“Ay,” wrote Timothy Langion, “may he now always be in calm seas.”
Woods’ own Facebook page features the Denver Broncos’ emblem instead of his picture. He had a wry sense of humor.
“I just helped a really old person put their groceries in my car,” he posted late last year.
Billed on its website as a “unique challenge of both athletic and gastrointestinal skill,” the race was started in 2004 as a dare among a group of undergrads at N.C. State. The annual run starts at the Bell Tower on the N.C. State campus and then winds 2.5 miles through downtown Raleigh to the Krispy Kreme at Peace and Person streets. The runners attempt to consume one dozen original glazed doughnuts before running 2.5 miles back to the Bell Tower.
Woods had already left the race before reaching the Krispy Kreme.
The Krispy Kreme Challenge has become a nationally recognized event in recent years. News of Woods’ death Saturday was reported in Canada and London.
“On behalf of the entire N.C. State community, our deepest sympathies go out to the runner’s family members and loved ones,” N.C. State spokesman Brad Bohlander said in a statement.