Man Runs 7.5-Mile Race... While Having a Heart Attack
But Wolfgang Zech is determined to run at least 24 more
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2014 12:44 PM CDT
Stock image   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Just 100 yards into Wolfgang Zech's 44th consecutive Dipsea Race—a challenging 7.5-miler that involves lots of steep terrain and three 50-story flights of stairs in California's Marin County—the 72-year-old just did not feel right. "My chest was really, really aching and I basically couldn’t run for nearly three-quarters of the race," he tells the San Francisco Chronicle. He finally finished with "by far my slowest" time, he says—"25, 30 minutes" slower than usual. Which is pretty amazing when you consider what he found out shortly after the race: He'd suffered a heart attack while running.

His wife convinced him to go to the hospital after he still felt lousy later that day—after staying at the race to watch the awards ceremony. Zech thought it was just acid reflux, but doctors determined the real cause, and did an angioplasty to insert two stents into two branches of a 95% blocked coronary artery. "They said they have no idea how someone his age survived," says his stepdaughter. "They think he’s a rare example of health." Zech has never suffered from heart problems before, but suspects he may have inherited problems from his father, who died of a heart attack. But he's allowed to start running again in two months, and he's determined to break the Dipsea record—by running his 68th consecutive race by the time he's nearly 97.

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Showing 3 of 12 comments
Mark Dreher
Jun 17, 2014 9:22 PM CDT
They are really doing miracles, with stints, these days. Any problem, with "your heart being clogged", it seems they have a stint placement, that can help you.
Plato
Jun 17, 2014 9:13 PM CDT
Reminds me of the joke about how dedicated some people are to a sport. While preparing to tee off on the seventeenth hole the golfer behind me caught up, he was red in the face, gasping for breath as he staggered up to me. "Hey man, would you let me play through ? I was just bit by a rattlesnake."
VooDoo
Jun 17, 2014 7:59 PM CDT
I saw a friend today. He told me he had a heart attack in May. He said his wife was racing him to the hospital and the pain was getting worse and worse. He died. He told me he felt what death is like.Doctors confirmed he was dead ( flatline and alarms) He said color slowly turns to black and white and grey, then just black. Doctors at another hospital did a procedure and shocked him back. I asked him about the tunnel and bright white light. He said " Nope. None of that. No loved ones, no harp music. No angels. Death is what we hoped it's not". Anyway, I just thought i'd share that.