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Ailing marathon runner returns to finish line

HONOLULU – Two days after collapsing in cardiac arrest upon completing the Honolulu Marathon, Koji Takano returned to the finish line Tuesday – still wearing his hospital wrist band.

“You are the most amazing champion of this year’s marathon,” Honolulu Marathon Association president Jim Barahal said as he presented the experienced Japanese runner with his framed certificate and finisher’s medal.

“I appreciate that I am alive,” Takano said through an interpreter, thanking his doctors.

Takano, a 39-year-old dentist, went to the finish line shortly after being released from Straub Hospital. He had on not only his wrist ID but the T-shirt he wore when his wife brought him to the hospital.

Takano collapsed into the arms of a doctor Sunday after crossing the finish line in 3 hours, 56 minutes, 34 seconds. He was carried to the medical tent, where doctors detected no pulse or blood pressure, said Barahal, a medical doctor. Doctors used an automatic external defibrillator to restore his heartbeat.

Takano did not respond to the first shock, but his heartbeat and blood pressure returned after the second, Barahal said. He was able to talk and was conscious when taken by ambulance to the hospital.

The marathon obtained nine portable machines only 12 days before the race, and had seven at various locations on the 26.2-mile course.

Barahal doesn’t believe Takano had a heart attack and he suspects there was no damage to the heart muscle. He said it appeared to be cardiac arrhythmia.

Takano has no history of heart problems and hopes to be cleared to return to running soon.