More investigation was needed to determine that part of Pohl's heart was not functioning and there was likely a blockage in one of his arteries. They took him to the cardiac catheterization lab, where three stents were used to reopen the vessel, which had been fully blocked by plaque that ruptured during the race.

After the procedure, Dr. Erika Feller, a cardiologist who is medical director of Maryland's heart transplant program, stepped in. She said Pohl's fitness meant he wasn't an obvious heart attack candidate, but genetics played a strong role. The building plaque, left untreated, meant he'd likely have had a heart attack whether he had run the race or not.

Now, he'll require cholesterol and blood pressure medicines for the rest of his life.

Still, Feller marvels at the team in the field and in the hospital that "did their job. One missing link and it wouldn't have worked out the way it did."

She eventually expects Pohl to run again. And that's a relief for someone who is used to running four to six times a week.

For now, he says he'll enjoy time with friends and family, including twin grandchildren Ryan and Abby, born to his daughter Jennifer just weeks before the race. He and his wife also plan to learn CPR and encourage others to learn about their family history and to get more regular checkups.

"In the hospital when I woke up, I thought, 'Why me?'" said Pohl. "But I have learned genetics trumps diet and exercise."

Lee Corrigan, president of Corrigan Sports, said he often thinks about runners like Pohl, who have trained for months but have a dangerous and unknown problem. He said the racing community hasn't settled on how to prepare.

"There is no standard formula," he said, adding that the Baltimore festival has a larger team than most with 250 medical professionals on the course.

"We can do the best we can and be prepared, but there are no guarantees," Corrigan said. "We are very relieved and happy today. We're proud of the effort and happy with the outcome of this story."

Corrigan said Pohl will get a race medal, perhaps at an event scheduled Thursday to reunite Pohl and those who saved him. Corrigan said Pohl technically completed the half-marathon when he was carried on a stretcher over the finish line to awaiting medical aid.

His official time was 2 hours, 16 minutes and 17 seconds, though his family never did stop his watch.

An earlier version misstated the title of chiropractor Allen Manison. The Sun regrets the error.

meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

twitter.com/baltsunhealth

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts