2 runners suffer heart attacks in Monterey Bay Half Marathon

Two runners who had heart attacks during the Monterey Bay Half Marathon earlier this month were saved by fellow competitors, race officials said.

The athletes both collapsed during the 13.1-mile race that stretches along the rugged coastline, according to the Monterey Herald. One of the people who reportedly came to the rescue just happened to be a cardiologist running in the race.

After being canceled two years in a row, thousands were anxious to take the course from Old Monterey to Asilomar Beach. The first medical emergency happened between miles 3 and 4, race officials said, when a man collapsed on the pavement with an irregular heart rate. 

Runners passing by stopped to perform CPR until an ambulance arrived. Medical personnel were able to restore the man's normal heart rhythm, and he was taken to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, according to Medical Director John Ellison.

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The second incident occurred at the end of the race when another man went down just past the finish line. A local cardiologist who finished the course at the same time performed CPR until medical units arrived with a defibrillator.

The runner woke up 10-15 seconds later, and was also transferred to Community Hospital, Ellison said.

Both men were middle-aged and experienced runners, Ellison said. He added that it was out of the ordinary to have one heart attack incident during a race, let alone, two.

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Race officials said both runners were doing well when they checked in on them later that evening. They said they were surprised at what had happened but grateful for those who had helped save their lives.