Ottawa man thanks ‘hero’ after half-marathon collapse


An Ottawa runner who collapsed during the last Ottawa Race Weekend had the opportunity Tuesday to meet and thank the stranger who rushed to help him.


Rob Meredith collapsed in front of the U.S. Embassy with about 5.5 kilometres left in the half marathon.

The 39-year-old said he was feeling the heat of race day and tried to push himself to run the final 20 minutes, but his body gave out.

“That’s when I knew something drastic was going on,” he said.

“[I felt] like I drank three bottles of wine and couldn’t walk a straight line, couldn’t feel my hands, couldn’t feel my feet.”

Meredith said his memory is a bit fuzzy and he’s not sure if he was able to maintain consciousness. He said his fitness tracker recorded his heart rate at 200 beats per minute.

‘My hero’

Meredith met Marian Watt — the stranger who rushed to help him — at an Orléans restaurant Tuesday evening. 

“I saw this gentleman across the street and he looked quite wobbly. He appeared to be leaning on a garbage can and he had difficulty standing up,” Watt said.

A runner who collapsed at Ottawa Race Weekend met back up with the nurse who helped care for him. 8:28

She said she called a police officer over and stayed with Meredith as they waited for an ambulance.

Watt, a nurse practitioner in Cornwall, Ont., said Meredith was “short of breath.”

Meredith said he remembers Watt talking to him, encouraging to remain calm and focus on seeing his children as he fought to stay conscious.

“What I remember very starkly was a very wonderful voice and a very calming influence who said ‘We’re going to get you help, you’re going to be OK,'” he said.

“That was my first sort of introduction to who I refer to as my hero that day.”

He said it was remarkable that she stopped to help someone and advocate for someone desperately in need of help.

‘Another shot at life’

Meredith introduced Watt to his wife and two sons on Tuesday.

He said he was lucky, recalling that another runner died during the same race weekend.

“The gift I was given was another opportunity, another shot at life when I thought that might be it for me,” Meredith said. 

Marian Watt presents Rob Meredith with his half-marathon medal after a talk at an Orléans running group. (Rob Meredith)

He said he is writing weekly notes to his children and appreciating family more, adding he’s back running and plans to do a 10 kilometre race next year.

“I think it’s wonderful to see Rob and how he’s put a positive spin on it. ” Watt said.

“It’s so wonderful to see all his family. He’s so inspirational.”