Running on a Broken Heart
A middle-age couple’s plan to compete in an ultra-long-distance race becomes even more extreme when doctors discover one of them has an alarming medical condition.
Illustrations by Matt Wiegle
The red bandana that covered my face bandit-style slipped as I ran. Douglas firs spiked upward, black silhouettes against the night sky. My headlamp threw a puddle of light onto the dirt road. A van passed, churning up a cloud of dust. Lost in its haze, I coughed and ran off the road, my eyes burning. In the distance, I saw lights and ran faster. I entered the relay exchange, kissed my husband, and gave him the baton. Jeff checked that his heart monitor, strapped to his wrist like a watch, was on.
We were running Oregon’s Hood to Coast relay, 1,000 teams racing 200 miles from snow-capped Mount Hood to the Pacific. Each runner ran three legs, often on steep hills and isolated roads. All of this over forty hours, living in a van with five of your teammates, sleeping little or not at all.
As my husband raced into the darkness, I caught my breath and began to worry.
We had already been looking forward to the race for months when Jeff’s chest pains got worse. A doc…
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