Runner who collapsed at Mercedes Marathon recounts experience

Doctor, first responders save runner

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Looking at Joe Henson just before the Mercedes Half Marathon, you would never guess what was about to happen to him.

Henson, himself, couldn’t imagine it either. “It doesn’t even seem real to be honest with you,” he said. “Started a pretty good race, pace felt good, weather felt decent.”

That kept up for about the first half of the race, but three or four miles from the finish line, that all changed.

"I started feeling my chest flutter, my heart flutter a little bit. Just got progressively worse. And right there at the end, I just kind of bottomed out. Started getting tunnel vision, just kind of fell out at the very end there,” said Henson.

Henson was unconscious and in cardiac arrest. His brother, who had run the race too, saw the whole thing happen.

“And the next thing I know, this guy pops in and says I'm a cardiologist. And he immediately goes to check his pulse and he says it was weak," said Jonathan Henson.

The doctor started CPR. Between that and the help from Birmingham Firefighters and Andrews Sports Medicine, Henson was revived.

“You hear about good Samaritan stories all the time and that’s certainly one. And I’m just very happy and blessed to be the recipient of one of those stories,” Henson said.

Henson, who is only 34 and trained for the race, says this should be a lesson for everyone.

“I think my biggest message is listen to your body. Your body is always going to give you clues and signs to what it needs,” said Henson. “It’s hard to understand the difference between when you are just fighting and pushing, and when your body is trying to tell you that you need to stop."

Doctors are still trying to figure out exactly what happened. The good news is there is no long term damage.

As for the cardiologist who jumped in, started CPR, and likely saved Henson’s life, the brothers are trying to track him down to say thank you.

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