A 55-year-old Maryland man was running in the Baltimore marathon when he suffered a heart attack just 200 feet from the finish line. He collapsed in a sea of runners when blockage stopped his heart beat, but other racers came to his aid, and staff from the medical tent a few yards away were at his side in just moments to revive him.

Bob Pohl is a middle-aged man who exercises and eats right. That’s why he didn’t think he’d have any problems running a marathon with his sons. He knew his family history and he had his cholesterol tested, but figured his healthy habits were enough to reduce his risk of a heart attack.

On the day of the race, his high cholesterol and his age got the best of him. “It was age catching up with me,” Pohl said. “I needed to be more religious about following up with my family history.”

But Pohl was lucky because he was treated immediately. With knowledgeable runners and professional medical staff on hand, Pohl was helped quickly and doctors were able to cool his body and delay the injury to his organs that should have been caused when his blood supply was cut off. Without this treatment, his body may have recovered, but his brain would not have.

Pohl said he felt lucky to have been surrounded by so many capable people at the time. “As a runner, you’re out there by yourself all the time,” he said. “It could have happened while I was alone. Just to be around medical professionals — I was very lucky.”

His doctors expect a six-week recovery. Yesterday, the one-time runner went on a 13-minute walk with his wife. Pohl says as soon as doctors clear him to do so, he’s putting on his running shoes and hitting the pavement again.

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