At 56, this sick American has completed several marathons with only 30% lung capacity

Author: Clark Tos
2022-10-23 12:52:01

When the Chicago Marathon arrived, thousands of runners were out of breath. But one of them managed the feat of finishing the 42.195 km with only 30% lung capacity.

Credit: inofab health

Eleven years ago, Russell Winwood, 56, from Brisbane, Australia, was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of conditions that cause blockage of airflow and breathing-related problems, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. On Sunday, October 9, this father of four ran in Chicago while raising money for the COPD Foundation. This is just the latest challenge for Winwood, who has consistently challenged the odds against a sickness progressive et incurable.

Russell Winwood finished the Chicago Marathon in a time of 6:28:33, a solid performance, considering that to manage his breathing effort and keep his lungs from hyperinflaming, he ran for 400 meters and walked for 100 meters throughout the course.

Chicago was the runner's fourth stop on his goal to run all six major marathons in the world. He notably participated in the New York Marathon in 2015, the London Marathon in 2017 and the Boston Marathon in 2018. He is registered for the Tokyo Marathon in 2023 and hopes to participate in the Berlin Marathon in the next two or three years. , before his doctors told him he would have to stop running due to his diminished lung capacity. But that prognosis didn't slow him down in the least.

Credit: inofab health

“I had a health journey that forged my character. What I've been through for the past 20 years has made me a better person, with a different outlook on life and what's important, so if that's what it took me to get there there, then it's a fair compromise ” Russell Winwood told our colleagues at Runner's World.

Russell Winwood grew up with asthma, but was still able to participate in sports and activities as a child. As he got older and started smoking, his asthma got worse. Years of stress and an unhealthy lifestyle culminated in a near-death experience at age 36. Indeed, in 2002, he had a stroke. “It made me realize that I had to get my health back” he confided.

He then took up cycling and triathlons, while managing his asthma. But Russell Winwood kept getting chest infections every time the training intensity increased. In 2011, he consulted a doctor to determine the cause and after a series of tests, they discovered that he had COPD. At the time, his lung function was recorded at 22%. Doctors told him he would likely need a lung transplant within five years. “It was a big shock, because I had regained my health by leading a healthy life, but I received this diagnosis and it was like a kick in the anthill” he explained.

Never shy away from a challenge, Russell Winwood watched a friend of his complete an Ironman and felt like trying that distance. He said his doctor told him it wouldn't be possible to finish, given the stage of his illness, but would still help him train safely. “I like to prove people wrong” said Russell Winwood.

Credit: Runner's World

A hors-norme mental

In the 2012 Ironman Australia race, he finished in 16:50:54, a defining moment in his career. Today, with several Ironmans and marathons under his belt and six years after doctors thought he would need a lung transplant, Russell Winwood continues to push the boundaries. With any disease, people are put in a box and told 'it's your life from now on' he confided, before adding: “It doesn't have to be. It's up to you to do what you want. »

For treatment, Russell Winwood takes four different inhaled medications. If the disease gets worse, he takes steroids or antibiotics. Today, his lung capacity is 30%. When describing what it feels like to run with the disease, he likens it to suffocation or drowning. But thanks to regular training, breathing techniques and the assistance of an oxygen tank, he was able to continue doing what he loves.

Credit: Runner's World

He started using the oxygen cylinder in 2020 after learning that his oxygen levels decreased the more he exerted himself. In addition to the oxygen cylinder, which weighs almost three kilograms, Russell Winwood races with a support runner who carries extra batteries for the cylinder.

Although running marathons is not common for people with COPD, for him, this sport served as a form of meditation and motivation. 'Hopefully I can extend my life, and that's what running gives me' he said while encouraging other patients with the same health concerns to also find their own forms of activity to improve their quality of life.

For every race he completes, Russell Winwood raises funds for local lung organizations. So far he has raised almost 100,000 euros for non-profit organizations around the world. During the Chicago Marathon, for example, Russell Winwood raised 2,080 euros, exceeding his goal. In any case, one thing is certain, his self-sacrifice commands respect and we can only admire his career.

Source : Yahoo