FRIDLEY, Minn. - Before his feet touch the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon pavement,
Fridleifur Fridleifsson trained on the lava flows near his home in Iceland.
In that home, two years ago, Fridleifsson died.
“I died,” Fridleifsson says for emphasis. “I was brought back to life.”
Fridleifsson was asleep with his wife when his heart stopped. She awoke to the sounds of last breaths, then saw her husband’s face go white.
Fridleifsson’s wife, a nurse, began CPR while his son called for an ambulance.
“I was shocked on the bedroom floor,” he says.
Fridleifsson was defibrillated again at the hospital after his heart stopped a second time.
Fridleifsson was 45 years old, fit and a veteran runner.
“Who would expect that?” he asks.
Within days doctors implanted in Fridleifsson’s chest a pacemaker and defibrillator.
“Who would expect to be back to running after this?” he asks.
Now, two years after his heart stopped, Fridleifsson is not only running – he’s competing in marathons.
On Friday, the Icelander was among 20 runners from 13 countries honored at a luncheon as Medtronic Global Champions. Half will run the Twin Cities Marathon. The rest will compete in the ten mile event.
Honoree Jen York, a teacher at Eastview High School, has been training for her 4th Twin Cities Marathon, two years after an insulin pump was implanted for her newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes.
“A lot of people say I could never run a marathon,” York says. “There's a lot more reasons now why I shouldn't be able to, but it's not that it's impossible. It's just looking at what you're doing and making a decision to keep moving forward.”
Moving forward is also what Fridleifsson preaches. “Not only running, it goes for your life in general – just get going.”
Take it from Iceland’s fastest dead man.