Richard Newman is a semi-retired surgeon and jogger. Before the 75-year-old San Antonio native found his passion for running, he read a book claiming that if you can run a marathon, you’ll never have any heart disease.
Then, Newman’s father died. His loss inspired him to take on the challenge.
Newman’s first marathon was the 1978 San Antonio Marathon. Soon, the Texan was running outside of his home state – and New York had a special place in his heart.
“My father immigrated through New York City in 1938, and my first my first trip to New York City was in 1991,” Newman said.
He was in town for his first New York City Marathon, alongside 30,000 others. It also wouldn’t be his last.
But in October 2015, days before Newman planned to embark on the marathon with his wife, Julie, the two were in the middle of a run when Newman’s health spiraled.
“I had no warning,” he said. “I just hit the ground without any symptoms at all.”
Newman was no longer breathing. Julie, who is a nurse, started CPR and compressed his chest for 13 minutes. When emergency medical technicians arrived, they used a defibrillator to restore his heartbeat.
“I didn’t know anything until I woke up in a downtown emergency room hospital with my chest wall collapsed from CPR with broken ribs,” said Newman, who thanks his wife for performing the CPR that saved his life.
After a yearlong recovery, the couple returned to New York City for the race in 2016.
“I tell people if they wanted to do one marathon in their life, that’s the one to do,” Newman said.
Newman is returning to New York to run the marathon this Sunday, celebrating the 75th marathon in his 75 years of life. Although Julie can’t be by his side this year, Newman isn’t alone: He writes his late brother’s name, Ron, on his shirt to hear people cheer it as he covers 26.2 miles throughout the city.