Miracle at Mile 8: Young Mother Collapses During Boston Marathon, Fellow Runners Save Her Life

Megan Roth collapsed during the Boston Marathon and had a cardiac episode — strangers performed CPR and kept her alive until the paramedics were able to get to her.

Megan Roth, a running coach from Minnesota, was running in her first race since giving birth to her 10-month-old son at the Boston Marathon on Oct. 11. The 34-year-old hoped to beat her own personal record of 2 hours 44 minutes, but she was not stressed — she simply wanted to “go out and race well and have fun being back in Boston.”

Eight miles into the race, she began feeling very ill; she then collapsed to the ground and had a cardiac episode.

“It happened so quickly that I wasn’t even able to — I just collapsed,” Roth told The Washington Post. “I don’t even remember hitting the ground, so when I woke up in the ambulance, I didn’t realize the seriousness of it.”

Marie Rogers, a retired critical care nurse, was cheering on the runners from her brother’s home along the route when she saw a runner on the ground from the window. “She got up with the help of another runner, but she appeared to be going down again,” said Rogers.

Rogers and her brother’s roommate, who is also a nurse, went out and found Roth “lying face down, making incoherent sounds.” Rogers noticed her earlobe turning blue, so she turned Roth over and was unable to find a pulse. Rogers started performing CPR and called to a woman on the sideline to call 911.

“After a few minutes, a runner stopped, introduced himself as a paramedic. He checked for a pulse, couldn’t find it, so I continued with CPR. Another runner stopped, an ER paramedic and then a physician, and from there they took over. EMS arrived [and they] had to shock her three times,” Rogers said.

Distance runners are often alone during long runs, so Roth was fortunate to have been in a populated area with medical personnel on standby. “It was a total team effort, and it gives me great pleasure seeing people come together for the sake of someone else,” said Rogers.

Once she regained consciousness, Roth began trying to determine what had happened. “I think my mind immediately went to: ‘I just passed out. I didn’t think I went into cardiac arrest, right?’ I was just, I was thinking I passed out, and I wasn’t exactly sure what had happened,” she said. “So when I woke up, I was instantly devastated and like: ‘What just happened to me? Why?’ Because it happened so early in the race.”

Then she had another realization. “‘Oh, my gosh, I was so lucky to be here,’” she said. “I felt like I could be dead right now. It’s just amazing and unbelievable. I think of myself, and if I look at my situation, I think I know how to give CPR, but it’s not something that I’ve ever done before. It’s just all the circumstances of it. I don’t know if I would have been that fortunate if it hadn’t happened there or even if it had happened while I was at home.”

“People have been so amazing, and I’m just overwhelmed with the kindness that people have shown me,” Roth said. “I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude with the love and support. The running community is so amazing, and people you never would have expected have reached out to say they have a defibrillator. I continue to get messages and support from people, and it’s just such a happy ending.”

Image source: Runners World, KSTP