Brian completes cross country race just four months after near fatal heart attack

Brian Winn (second left) completed the Pett Level five-mile cross-country race last Sunday just four months after suffering a near-fatal heart attack
Brian Winn (second left) completed the Pett Level five-mile cross-country race last Sunday just four months after suffering a near-fatal heart attack

By Derren Howard

“I just felt a bit weird and then hit the ground, that’s all I remember. Two days later I woke up in hospital.”

Well-known Eastbourne athlete Brian Winn, who turns 71 on Monday, has been a runner for 50 years. He has represented Hailsham Harriers, Eastbourne Rovers and now runs for Polegate Plodders.

Cross Country season is his favourite time of year and last November the president of the Sunday Cross Country League lined up at Warren Hill for a five-miler.

Soon after the race began Brian suffered a near-fatal heart attack. Fellow runners tried to revive him with chest compressions, he also received nine shocks from the defibrillator and an air ambulance was called to rush him to Brighton hospital.

He was in an induced coma for two days, and a stent was inserted into the one problem artery that had narrowed and caused the heart attack.

Just four months on, Brian was given the all-clear and last Sunday at Pett Level, running alongside club member and paramedic Denise Dyer, he navigated the wet and muddy course and was greeted by rapturous applause as he crossed the finish line.

“I feel a bit of fraud to be honest,” said Brian. “All this fuss I received and I feel fine.

“Obviously it was very serious but I don’t remember too much about it. It’s the only race I’ve ever entered that I didn’t complete, so it’s a bit annoying in that respect.

“The doctors said I recovered because I have been running most of my life and because I’m fit and not overweight. It was just one narrow artery and it could happen to anyone. All the doctors and nurses were fantastic.

“So many people tried to help me on the day. I’ve had to buy so many boxes of chocolates to thank them all. It’s cost me a fourtune,” he said with a chuckle.

“It was a great feeling to compete once again. The support I received from the members was fantastic.

“They told me to take it easy but once you get running the old competitor kicks in. Denise, who ran with me all the way, kept telling me to slow down.”

After the race, Brian gave a speech thanking all who came to his aid at Warren Hill, including the Kent, Surrey, Sussex Air Ambulance Service who flew him to hospital for life saving treatment. The Polegate Plodders held a fund raising event in recognition of their work and raised £103.

“I did give a bit of a speech. I hope I didn’t bore the pants of everyone but I just wanted to say a few words of thanks.

“I don’t want people to read this and think I’m a big head. For me, it’s about the club and encouraging people to keep fit.”

The Beachy Head Marathon in October, known as one of the most gruelling in the marathon calendar, is next on the list for Brian. “Well, people say it’s tough but you can just go slow. The scenery is lovely. What better place to be?”

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