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A Return To Running After Near Death | Jonathan’s Story

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When I read Jonathan’s story on Facebook, I had tears & chills. I immediately reached out, let him know I was so happy that he was able to come back strong to the weekend where his whole life changed. He graciously agreed to let me share his story here with you about his return to running after his near death experience in 2016. 

While flying home from the last (sob sob sob!) runDisney west coast weekend, I ponied up for wifi and scrolled through all the groups. I wanted it to last, and staying connected to social media does that for me.

I found that many of us just didn’t want to see the weekend end, more so than a “normal” Disney pixie dust high.

A few posts jumped out at me and I asked if I could share here- because you know I love a good story!

If you want to know what runDisney means to the community, stay tuned to the blog this week. I’ll be sharing more soon. (And If you have something you’d like to add, please send me an email [email protected])

I hope they strike a chord with you as they did with me.

Warning: get your tissues for the video here.


A Return To Running After Near Death | Jonathan’s Story

This is one of those stories that you will read and thank your maker. I know I did.

As a runner, we are supposed to be doing this sport as a way toward health, right? Right.

But sometimes we hear those stories that just don’t make sense.

You know the ones I mean; the perfectly healthy runner who drops at the end of a race. Often with tragic results.

Jonathan’s story made me gasp and then cry a little as he recounted his experiences over the past year.

You might remember hearing some of his story last fall.

He was the runner who finished the 2016 Doctor Strange 10K and promptly collapsed just past the finish line. It was not looking good for him based on eyewitness accounts.

Whoa. I mean… but here he is in his own words.


Guest Post by Jonathan Hika

My story really begins a few years ago when my sister convinced me to run my first race.

As reluctant as I was I eventually said I would do a 10k. This alone was quite the stretch for me because I really had no desire whatsoever to run any races.

But after training for and finishing my first race (the inaugural Disneyland Lightside 10k) I was convinced I could do more.



That November I ran what was supposed to be my first 1/2 Marathon (Wine and Dine) but due to inclement weather, they turned it into a much shorter run.

But this just solidified that I could run more and farther so I signed up for more races and then challenges.

It was after the inaugural Dark Side Half that I realized I could no longer say that I didn’t like running anymore and I signed up for every challenge I could.

All of this culminated in the Super Heroes Weekend in 2016.



I had trained a lot by now and was used to running two days in a row so I took it easy on the 10k finishing in 1:15 roughly. After I crossed the finish line I felt fine and was walking off my run.

I turned the first corner and a little girl asked me if I was ok. I looked at her smiled and said, “oh yeah honey, I’m fine”

At that moment my heart stopped.

I hit the ground immediately with no pulse and no oxygen.

The paramedics rushed to my lifeless body. They pulled out the AED, but it couldn’t be used.

So they would start manual compressions. My heart started momentarily but went flat again. They continued worked to restore my heart beat. It would take them five minutes before I came back.

But even with a heartbeat, I was still unconscious.

My body was lifted into an ambulance and I was taken to UC Irvine Douglas Medical Center and put into their ICU.


Jonathan in the ICU where he was unconscious for 7 days.


I would remain unconscious for the next seven days before finally awakening confused and terrified in my hospital bed.

A ventilator was helping me breathe and tubes were supplying me food, drugs, liquids, and more. My hands were tied down and I couldn’t move my legs.

I was so scared and didn’t understand how I got here or how so much time had passed.

It took another week before I would be able to leave the hospital and that same week to figure out what was wrong with me. It felt like an eternity.

My diagnosis, a malignant anomalous right coronary artery. This only occurs in 0.2-2% of the entire population and 9 of 10 find out they have it from an autopsy.

Had I been anywhere else, I likely wouldn’t have survived.

So, at 35 years old in January of 2017, I had open heart surgery. The doctor grafted a new right coronary artery into my heart and I was sent home to heal.


post open heart surgery.


Through the year I worked hard to get back into shape. Slowly growing my speed and distance to work towards this November.

Then, on November 11th I ran the race that nearly killed me again.

But this time something different happened. Instead of receiving CPR from those paramedics that saved my life I received my finisher medal.



This race meant so much to me.

It was a new being and the completion of a chapter of my life. It showed that I am here, healthy, and can do anything.

This race was for me and for all those like me that have had a major event in their lives where they might not think they can ever get back to where they were and I am here to say you can.

I am grateful to all those that helped me. I feel so blessed to have been given a second opportunity at life and I am so thankful that they were all there for me.

This has been a long journey and I can’t wait to see what is next.




WOW, right?!

I asked him how he felt now- and if he felt a little like Iron Man after all this!


Jonathan: I feel pretty awesome! I mean, to have gone through all of this even for me is somewhat unbelievable.

There have been times when I was terrified that I would be stuck in bed forever. Even after surgery I still wasn’t sure what life would look like.

But I just did a little more every day and worked at it.

This year’s infinity stone is the reality stone. Which is fitting because this is my reality… I feel like I accomplished so much and that I did it all while still being caring towards my body and not overdoing it.

In a way, I am Ironman. My heart needed direct attention and afterwards, I still got to be part of the Avengers (half marathon).


You can read more about Jonathan’s journey HERE and HERE.

Thanks so much for sharing your story with me. I continue to be impressed with runners I meet- especially ones like Jonathan who didn’t even think they wanted to be a runner (feel ya, man! ha!) but overcome major hurdles to do amazing things.

Hope to see you at Disney World, Iron Man!

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