The fact Jason DeRuiter is even running today much less alive is exceptional but this weekend the 46-year-old plans to run in Victoria again after a cardiac arrest two years ago.
“It’s unreal. It’s actually mind-boggling. The entire everything” said De Ruiter.
The Nanaimo man got into running relatively late, at 41, but by his second marathon, he’d already clocked at an impressive 3 hours and 26 minutes.
“Which is only six minutes off the Boston qualifier and so that’s where I decided hey I got to train for this for real,” said De Ruiter.
He then set a goal on qualifying for the prestigious Boston Marathon. Two years ago he ran the Royal Victoria Marathon, a qualifying race.
“It started really well. The day was awesome. There are 10,000 runners. It’s super exciting. The energy’s there,” recalled De Ruiter.
De Ruiter’s girlfriend was near the finish line when he crossed it.
“I was feeling really celebratory because I knew he was going to make his Boston qualifying time and I watched him go by and I watched him cross the finish line,” said Leanne Robinson.
The CHEK cameras caught him finishing with the qualifying time of 3 hours and 15 minutes — five minutes under his goal.
“And then apparently shortly after I walked into the first aid tent walked up to one of the guys that was there and said something doesn’t feel right and then I hit the ground and my heart just stopped beating,” said De Ruiter.
“I went to find Jason and he had disappeared. Like he was gone. I searched for him for two hours after the race,” said Robinson.
De Ruiter was officially dead for eight minutes. Fortunately, the man he approached in the tent that day was doctor.
De Ruiter was revived but doesn’t recall anything until he came out of a coma three days later in hospital.
At first, doctors said he may not run again but eventually they gave him the green light.
“You know life is really way too short to just survive it and so you can’t be afraid. You got to live,” said De Ruiter.
And so this weekend he’s signed up for the Victoria half-marathon. His first race exactly two years to the day later.
“It’s kind of cool because it finishes at the exact spot where I collapsed,” he said.
As for whether he’ll be nervous at the finish line De Ruiter says this time he has a defibrillator in his chest.
He still plans to run the Boston Marathon this spring, thanks to his qualifying race time from Victoria two years ago.