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Runner who suffered heart attack during Monument Avenue 10K finishes race

Posted at 11:18 PM, May 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-29 23:58:07-04

RICHMOND, Va. – A runner who suffered a heart attack during the Monument Avenue 10K in April set a record Sunday afternoon in Richmond when he completed the race.

Bill Hughes was running the race with his daughter Bethany seven weeks ago when he next suffered a heart attack 5 kilometers into the race.

Bill Hughes before his heart attack.

Bill Hughes before his heart attack.

"When I went down, I don't remember anything,” Hughes said.

His daughter said it all happened so fast.

"I feel like he grabbed my arm, and then he… hit the ground [and] face-planted,” she said. “I was like, ‘Dad!’”

Hughes did not regain consciousness until he was in the back of an ambulance.

"I thought I was still running,” he said. “I felt someone putting an oxygen thing over my nose, and I said, 'Take that off!  I can't run with that.’”

An AED reading showed Hughes' heart rhythm was all over the place.

An AED reading showed Hughes' heart rhythm was all over the place.

What Hughes did not realize was a team of runners and bystanders had jumped in to save his life.

Along with Bethany, nurse Rachael Kelly, firefighter Matt Howell and Dr. Monica Revlas all gave Hughes CPR until the ambulance arrived.

“It's overwhelming to think about how many people helped me that day,” Hughes said.

Sunday on Monument Avenue, at the exact spot Hughes went down, a team of friends, family and the first responders who helped save his life were with him to finish the race.

His path back to the course has not been an easy one. In fact, the CPR compressions broke several of his ribs and Hughes underwent had triple bypass surgery a few weeks ago.

"When I start something, I want to finish it, and I just felt bad I didn't finish," he said.

Hughes completes Monument Avenue 10K.

Hughes completes Monument Avenue 10K.

Despite the driving rain from a tropical depression, adoring fans cheered Hughes into the record books.

Fifty days and several hours after he started the race, Hughes now holds the record for the longest Monument Avenue 10K time in history.

Hughes is proud of the special record.

“Couldn't have done it without all the help,” he said. “Thank you so much.”

Medical professionals said the the CPR provided to Hughes on the day of the race was textbook.

Hughes, who said his brother died of a heart attack a few years ago, believes his story is an example of why more people should learn CPR.

National CPR Week begins Wednesday. You can email to sign up for a course from the Richmond Ambulance Authority