More marathon runners sought medical aid this year

February 1, 2011 10:41:11 AM PST
A woman who collapsed just before she reached the finish line during Sunday's Chevron Houston Marathon is still hospitalized. Race officials say the woman's heart stopped twice after she collapsed.

That runner, who Eywitness News has learned through multiple sources is 26-year-old Alaina Dixon, is in critical condition at St. Luke's in the Texas Medical Center. Marathon officials say she had a seizure just prior to crossing the finish line.

Running 26.2 miles can be grueling, even for the fittest. According to the medical director with the Chevron Houston Marathon, nearly 250 runners required some sort of medical attention during or after Sunday's race.

None were as serious as Dixon's, whose collapse near the finish line we've deemed to be too unsettling to show publicly.

"She appeared to have a seizure at the finish line," Dr. John Cianca said. "We were able to get her inside within a couple minutes, which is good."

Dr. Cianca says the runner was rushed off the race course. Her heart stopped and they had to shock it twice to resuscitate her.

"We had to resuscitate her. We were able to resuscitate her," he said. "We also intubated her on the scene and had her in an ambulance probably inside of 10 minutes."

Race officials say there were more calls for medical care this year in part because of the warm, wet and humid conditions, which were very different than those the athletes had been training through in recent days.

Dr. Cianca says 60 to 70 more runners than last year sought out medical care, which is about a 30 percent increase. But he also attributes that increase to the larger size of the race, for which 26,000 people registered.

Many in Dixon's running group have posted on their Facebook page well wishes and prayers.