PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Marathon draws lots of local runners and out-of-towners as well.
One of those visitors had a life-changing experience during the marathon two-years ago.
In 2015, on a bright sunny day, while rounding the 26 mile mark and with the finish line in sight, marathoner Jeff Whitmore went down on the Boulevard of the Allies in sudden cardiac arrest.
“Unfortunately when I got there, he was not breathing, and did not have a pulse,” Marathon medical director Ronald Roth said.
But fortunately for Whitmore, Roth was there to administer cardio pulmonary resuscitation, and EMTs with a defibrillator shocked his heart back to life.
Though the chances of surviving sudden cardiac arrests are small, the quick intervention saved Jeff Whitmore’s life.
“I woke up four days later coming out of a medically induced coma in Mercy’s cardiac ICU,” Whitmore remembers.
His UPMC medical team would nurse the native Oregonian back to recovery.
After his close brush with death, the 25-year-old resolved to seize the day, vowing to live every one to the fullest.
“Combination of some wanderlust and a little bit of soul searching and spiritual search to go out and see what else is out in the world,” Whitmore said.
With his then finance, no wife, Nora, Whitmore circled the globe.
He went hang gliding in Argentina, and bungee jumping in New Zealand.
He visited 27 countries, across six continents in 10 months.
When that expedited bucket list was complete, the couple chose Pittsburgh to settle down, drawn back to this big-small town that had shown so much kindness.
“The people. We’re very much drawn to the care and compassion that came out of that race weekend, and was very meaningful,” Jeff said.
As the Pittsburgh Marathon race weekend draws closer, Whitmore has been cleared to run, but this time on a relay team.
“I think marathons are off the table and racing for PRs for the time are not really in the cards anymore, but getting out and running and staying in shape, and getting fresh air, clearing my head are something I can still do,” Whitmore says.