Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pheidippides: Don't Share His Fate

This past Saturday was a day full of mixed emotions for the marathon community. There was a new course record set in Chicago but that story is taking the back seat to a story much more tragic.

(Decent Turnout...)
William Caviness was a 35-year-old fire fighter from the great state of North Carolina. He was running to raise money to help burn victims on there long and expensive road to recovery. Reports indicate that Caviness suffered a massive heart attack 500 yards from the finish line. Paramedics were able to get his heart beating again but he died 1 hour and 45 minutes later.

The scary fact is that unless you have ever had a stress test you really have no idea if you have an exercise induced arrhythmia. The only way to find out is to have some type of acute attack. I recently had the great honor of meeting a former professional cyclist who is now an extremely successful transplant games athlete. He suffered a massive "widow maker" heart attack during the last mile of an elite road race. During the long wait between his heart attack and his heart transplant he discovered that the chest pain he had experienced his whole life was actually a HUGE warning sign. 

This is why I believe that individuals should be required to have a full stress test prior to entering there first marathon. This would disallow people with congenital heart defects and arrhythmia's from participating. Taking this precaution would be an obvious hassle for race coordinators but in the long run it would be worth it.

(We Should Know Better)

We should take a lesson from Pheidippides, the runner of the first marathon, who died upon its completion. Marathon running can be extremely dangerous, proper precautions should be taken.

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