Heart-health conscious runners and walkers will converge at Marymoor Park on May 21 to get their blood pumping and raise awareness.
The King County park will play host to the first-ever Ironheart Classic 4 mile/8 Mile Race and Health/Fitness Festival. Both all-ages fun runs will begin near the Velodrome race track, continue through the park and along the Sammamish River Trail.
An effort to raise money for the Nick of Time Foundation and educate people about healthy lifestyle habits, the race is being organized — with the help of others — by David Watkins.
For the Mill Creek resident, heart health is very important. In 2005, Watkins had open heart surgery, which was followed by a stroke about a month later. Upon recovering, he founded the Ironheart Racing Team, a team of endurance athletes who have been through some sort of cardiac procedure like him.
Although the team was formed about six years ago, it wasn’t until the last year or so that membership really began growing. There are now about 120 athletes representing 40 states and six countries on the team who work to raise awareness for congenital heart disease and healthy-heart living as well as raise money for cardiac-related charities.
“It’s been quite remarkable, the growth of team over the last year and a half,” Watkins said.
Nick of Time, the organization benefiting from next week’s race, is a nonprofit in Mill Creek whose mission is to “foster awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in children and young adults through the formation of school and community public access defibrillator (PAD) programs, cardiac screenings, education and awareness,” according to its website.
Watkins, Nick of Time’s board chairman, said SCA affects more than 300,000 individuals a year (more than breast cancer, prostate cancer and AIDS combined) and is not to be confused with a heart attack, which is usually due to structural damage such as a clogged artery. Conversely, SCA is due to an electrical impulse in the body and affects many athletes.
Watkins, who grew up in Redmond, said when a person is active, their heart can do many different things including firing different electrical impulses that may be ineffective and trigger SCA.
Although its name implies unpredictability, Watkins said an EKG test can help detect possible heart conditions that may cause SCA. Once detected, these conditions can be managed with treatments ranging from medication to an internal defibrillator.
To further its cause, Watkins said Nick of Time will be offering free heart screenings at Redmond High School in October for students 13 and older. He said getting tested is especially important for athletes because while physical exams will cover the condition of their bones and muscles, the heart’s health is often ignored.
“Nobody’s concentrating on your most valuable resource, which is your heart,” Watkins said.
In addition to the two all-ages runs, there will also be a health fair at the Ironheart Classic. Vendors will represent a variety of health-related companies and organizations.
Michael Waite of Redmond Medic One will be manning a tent that will offer free hands-only CPR training to the community. He is planning for five 20-minute training sessions throughout the day, which begins at 9 a.m. The training is open to all ages.
“My goal will be to be able to train 100 people in CPR,” the paramedic said.
He said holding the all-ages, pet-friendly event locally will help the city’s goal in becoming a heart-smart city.
Watkins added that the goal is to make Redmond the gold standard in the state when it comes to heart health.
The Ironheart Classic will also feature bicycle helmet and car seat safety checks, music, food, giveaways and prizes. Blitz from the Seattle Seahawks will also be in attendance, along with the Blue Thunder drummers. Jamba Juice will provide free smoothies and Banana Man will begin the race.
Watkins said a portion of the Ironheart Classic’s proceeds will also go towards purchasing more defibrillators to distribute throughout the park.
Marymoor Park is located at 6046 W. Lake Sammamish Pkwy N.E. To learn more about the Ironheart Racing Team and to register for the Ironheart Classic, visit www.ironheartracing.com. To learn more about the Nick of Time Foundation, visit www.nickoftimefoundation.org.