A Mid-Marathon Cardiac Arrest, An MD's Crisis Of Confidence


                                    By Theodore Strange, MD, as told to Sarah Yahr Tucker

I was running my 25th New York City Marathon. It was 2018, and I almost pulled out of running that year. I wasn't myself, and maybe that's an understatement.

A month earlier, I had been involved in a malpractice case. I was found liable for $10 million. My colleagues didn't think I had done anything wrong, but the jury did. And the local newspapers made me look like a villain.

I was devastated. But my priest, my friends, and my family all told me, "You can't quit." So, I decided to run for them.

I started on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge that morning with some friends from work. I usually listen to music as I'm running, but I didn't that year. I was just in my zone, enjoying the crowds. They're huge. Millions of people on the streets.

I was running well. I did half the race in an hour and 57 minutes. My family always meets me at mile 17, and I was almost there. I had reached 59th Street and was about to make the turn onto First Avenue.

That's one of the noisiest places in the marathon. There's a kind of tunnel, and with the crowd and the throng of runners, it's incredibly loud. But somehow, I heard somebody yell, "Help!"

Now, how I heard that, I don't know. And if I'd been listening to music like I always do, no way I would've heard it. I could swear it was an angel on my shoulder that said, "Turn around, dummy. You've got a person that needs your help to your left."

I turned around and about 30 feet behind me, I saw a woman waving her hands and a runner on the ground. I thought, Somebody fainted. I pushed through the crowd to get to them. The woman was crying, saying, "My friend went down to tie her shoe and she fell back. I think she's seizing or something."

I got down and tried to wake the other woman up. I lifted her legs up. But I quickly realized there was more to the story. I felt for pulses and couldn't feel them. I screamed for a defibrillator and started to do CPR.


Articles in this issue:

Journal of Medicine Sign Up

Get the Journal of Medicine delivered to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

No membership required*


    • Editor-in Chief:
    • Theodore Massey
    • Editor:
    • Robert Sokonow
    • Editorial Staff:
    • Musaba Dekau
      Lin Takahashi
      Thomas Levine
      Cynthia Casteneda Avina
      Ronald Harvinger
      Lisa Andonis

Leave a Comment

Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated. Please do not use a spam keyword or a domain as your name, or else it will be deleted. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation instead. Thanks for your comments!

*This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.