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Man powers through Dipsea Race with 'acid reflux,' discovers he was actually having a heart attack

Man powers through Dipsea Race with 'acid reflux,' discovers he was actually having a heart attack

A year or two ago, some friends and I went out for Chicago deep-dish pizza. Later that night, a pain like I'd never felt ripped through my chest, prompting me to proclaim that I was having a heart attack. A buddy of mine rolled his eyes, handed me a few Tums, and said, "Guess you're not a teenager anymore."

On the other end of the tough spectrum is the awesomely named Wolfgang Zech, who raced his 44th consecutive Dipsea Race on June 8 in California, only to discover hours later that he had suffered a heart attack during the 7.5-mile run.

Zech, 72, noticed a sharp pain in his chest before the race even began, but the runner chalked it up to acid reflux and powered through.

"My chest was really, really aching and I basically couldn't run for nearly three-quarters of the race until I reached the point called Cardiac Hill," Zech told The San Francisco Chronicle. "Cardiac Hill has a whole other meaning to me now."

While Zech's time was about 30 minutes slower than he usually runs the steep, technical course, he finished the race as usual, popped a few Tums, and headed home with his wife. When he still did not feel better that night, his wife convinced him to head for the hospital, where doctors said 95 percent of a coronary artery was blocked, and performed an angioplasty.

The episode doesn't seem to have slowed Zech down too much, though. He said he would compete in his 45th consecutive Dipsea Race in 2015, "unless I've grown two wings and am on Cloud 9."