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Stalybridge man runs marathon after having a cardiac arrest on the toilet

A man from Stalybridge put in a marathon effort to conquer the TCS 2024 London Marathon while raising funds for the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Chris Rowell, 52, joined a team of 800 BHF runners who took to the streets of London on Sunday 21st April all with the same mission to fund lifesaving research.  

The iconic event raised more than £1.4 million for the BHF, which will enable the charity to continue to fund groundbreaking research into new treatments and cures for heart and circulatory diseases.  

Chris, the company director at Lead Automate, completed the gruelling 26.2-mile course in 4hours 53mins and 56 seconds and raised an incredible £2,500 for the BHF. 

He took on the challenge after having a cardiac arrest on 3rd January 2021. Chris said: “I was on the toilet on my phone when I had a serious heart attack. I don’t remember what happened next but my girlfriend at the time, Becka, heard my phone drop on the floor and came upstairs to see what had happened. 

“Becka called 999 and pulled me off the toilet to start CPR as my heart had stopped. She also called our neighbour who is a nurse to come over and help with CPR. They did CPR on me for 20 minutes before I was taken to hospital. I had a balloon angioplasty and was in a coma for three days.” 

Three months after his cardiac arrest Chris did a treadmill test and was given the all clear to start running. He’d previously run the London Marathon in 2011 and Manchester Marathon in 2012 and joked about running a marathon. 

Chris said: “I was nervous about raising my heart rate after everything that had happened. I did my first 10K on 1st January 2024 and took it from there. Becka was very nervous about me doing the marathon. She went through the trauma of finding me. My body had a good training memory and four months after my heart attack I ran a marathon.” 

Running a marathon wasn’t the only big achievement since his cardiac arrest for Chris. Six months after he collapsed, he proposed to Becka and they married last June. They’ve since had a baby boy, Hugo, who is now 20 months old. 

Chris was cheered along the course by Becka and his sons Sam, 18, Lewis, 22, and Hugo. Upon crossing the finish line, Chris said: “Taking part in the 2024 TCS London Marathon for the British Heart Foundation (BHF), was such a huge challenge and an incredible experience. The atmosphere around the course was electric and it was amazing having so many people cheering me on, it made me even more determined to cross the finish line.  

  “The research that the BHF does makes such a difference to the 7.6 million people in the UK living with heart and circulatory diseases.  I’m proud that I’m doing as much as I can to support their amazing work to help fund the next big scientific breakthrough.”  

Andy Tribe, Events Manager at the BHF, added: “It’s fantastic to see Chris’s courage and determination in helping us fund lifesaving research. Without the dedication of our team of BHF runners and the commitment of people like Chris, we wouldn’t be able to fund research that has already broken new ground, revolutionised treatments and transformed the lives of millions of people in the UK.   

“The stories of why our amazing supporters take part never fails to amaze me and it was incredible to see Chris and 800 others take on such a gruelling challenge to help save and improve lives.”    

To take on your own challenge for the BHF, visit www.bhf.org.uk/events     

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