Pittsburgh Marathon Runner Back After Near-Death Experience Last Year

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – On Sunday, 38,000 people will take to the streets for the 2016 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon.

One year ago, 26 year-old Jeff Whitmore collapsed about 150 yard from the finish. He stopped breathing and didn’t have a pulse.

Dr. Ronald Roth, the marathon medical director and paramedics on bicycles arrived quickly and shocked his heart to revive him.

After a week of testing at UPMC Mercy Hospital, doctors implanted a defibrillator into his chest to protect him from heart arrhythmia.

Now, he is back to run the half marathon this year. He joined Larry Richert and John Shumway to talk about his near-death experience and why he decided to run again.

While doctors aren’t totally sure what happened to him, he says the best answer he got for his heart defect was a combination of things from a previously unknown pre-existing condition.

“The combination of over-heating, dehydration, low electrolyte count and a little bit of bad luck,” he said.

Whitmore said people ask him if he is crazy for running again this year.

“I think it’s worth noting last year I was running the full marathon for a very specific time and this year, I’m running a half marathon just to finish at a much slower pace,” he said.

Whitmore says now the incident changed three things for him.

“Life is precious and I’m not invincible and things can go wrong very quickly. The second one for me is an increased perspective on life. So, when I’m at the office and the copy machine’s not working, or my coffee at Starbucks is a little too hot…it doesn’t ruffle my feathers quite the way that it might have a year ago. And the third thing for me is in addition to that increased perspective is…the leaves seems to be a little green, the birds chirp a little louder and the sky’s a little bluer each day,” he said.

Whitmore will be running with a tracker app on his phone to monitor his heart and his girlfriend will also be running alongside him.

Listen to the “KDKA Morning News” with Larry Richert and John Shumway weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA

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