by Steffan “Cookie” Cook
On Sunday February 24, 2013, members of the Southern California running and hiking group (and largest Spartan team in 2012), “The Weeple Army” held a low-key event/get together in the city of Signal Hill near Long Beach.
The Hike/Run was to be around 8km and would include various mental and physical challenges including the staple diet of those that often train for Spartan Races – car tires, house bricks, buckets and backpacks.
The course and set up was one of a 2.7k loop of trails and various hills whil carrying these items. It was a warm day and while many people were laughing at themselves for going through the motions of the absurd self-inflicted pain that many of us are used to, one man wasn’t enjoying his day as much as he usually does.
Half-way through the second loop, Andy Bird complained of feeling unwell and felt the need to rest a while and it was soon apparent that this wasn’t the normal, “take a breather” moment. A car was quickly brought to him and he was returned to base camp where he was given more water and he rested a little further.
He decided he was going to leave and make his way to a nearby hospital, just to be sure. As he entered the building, he started suffering from what he believed was a heart attack. It was quickly confirmed that it was.
Incredibly, Andy was taken to a bed and confirmed stable within 18 minutes. Even more incredibly, Andy quickly shrugged off the attack and was in good spirits within a couple of hours.
He explained, “Mild Cardio Infarction (STEMI) is what they called it. They did an angioplasty. Then they tubed my throat – a testransesophageal echocardiogram – and put a camera in to look at the outside muscle of my heart. The cardiologist has no clue why I had a heart attack as all the lab work came back as me being quite healthy. My blood pressure is low to normal.”
When asked what he’ll do to mitigate any future attacks he replied, “I will be attempting a lower sodium/lower fat diet. I will be taking 81mg of aspirin every day for the rest of my life and Plavix for the next year. After a short break I will resume my “crazy” (as described by friends and family) training.”
When asked if the hiking, rucking and carrying of tires and bricks was responsible for the attack, Andy defiantly shakes his head and points out the very opposite, “My friends asked themselves how it could have happened to me with all the training I do? I have to look at this in a positive light that I can only hope that what happened to me will hopefully get other people off the couch and hike, run, do something active as it could possibly save their life.”
He actually believes the training may have saved him. “If I hadn’t been training with the Weeples for so long and leading the Spartan Race lifestyle, I believe the heart attack could have been much worse.”
Hard-hitting words. Ones that should inspire action and movement. Andy hopes others will read his story and get off their couches and join him in training.
Go for a jog, a swim, get your body moving, active, and healthy. One day, it just may literally save your life like it did for Andy.
See you at the finish line. Register today.