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Runner awake after collapsing at half marathon, being put in medically induced coma

Michael Rowland's heart stopped beating for nine minutes after he hit the ground at the finish line of the Shamrock Half Marathon.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- The community is rallying to help a person who collapsed while running his first half marathon Sunday.

Mike Rowland hit the ground at the finish line of the Shamrock Half Marathon at the Oceanfront.

Medics took Rowland, who is a member of the North End Running Club (NERC), to the emergency room.

The captain of the running club, Barry Clark, established a GoFundMe page to help Rowland with his medical expenses.

There are also money jars and jugs at restaurants along Shore Drive and the Oceanfront.

"Mike's such a staple on Shore Drive that we wanted to do the only thing we knew how to do," said Stuart White, a bartender at CP Shuckers.

So far, more than $20,000 has been raised on the page and more than $7,000 has come through events and a silent auction.

"That says a lot about Mike, he's a great guy and touches a lot of lives," White said.

On the fundraising page, Clark wrote that Rowland's heart stopped beating for nine minutes after the collapse. Medics administered CPR. Once Rowland was at the hospital, doctors admitted him to the critical care unit and induced a coma to help his body rest.

Preliminary tests didn't indicate what may have led to the collapse. Later, it seemed at least part of the problem was a condition called Rhabdomyolysis.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says the condition is "associated with heat stress and prolonged physical exertion, resulting in the rapid breakdown, rupture, and death of muscle. When muscle tissue dies, electrolytes and large proteins are released into the bloodstream that can cause irregular heart rhythms and seizures, and damage the kidneys."

"[The incident] made no sense at all," said White. "But it's just one of those freak things that you never know what's going to happen."

Symptoms of Rhabdomyolysis include:

  • Muscle cramps/pain
  • Abnormally dark (tea or cola colored) urine
  • Weakness
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Asymptomatic

13News Now spoke to Rowland briefly by phone Thursday. He said he still is receiving critical care in the hospital where the medical staff is monitoring his heart.

Many people know Rowland as a bartender at Lynnhaven Pub. The restaurant as well as C.P. Shuckers will continue the effort to raise money for Rowland who recently began working as a mortgage loan officer.

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