Marathon runners reunite after she saved his life

Fate brought the two runners together at the Portland Marathon

Kirstyn Rossman hugs Dave Brenner a week after she helped save him from a heart attack. 'Don't hug too tight,' he said. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — At mile 15, Dave Brenner got dizzy. So, during last Sunday’s Portland Marathon, he knelt down, right in the middle of the course.

Brenner, 60, started having a heart attack. He went unconscious.

Then, Brenner woke up, regaining consciousness in an ambulance.

A week later, at Legacy Emmanuel Hospital in Portland, Brenner tried to piece together how he went from the course to the ambulance. He couldn’t remember, so Kirstyn Rossman filled in the blanks.

Kirstyn Rossman talks with Dave Brenner a week after she helped save him during the Portland marathon. (KOIN)

“I was saying your name and shaking you and you weren’t responding,” said Rossman, an assistant nurse manager at Meridian Park and a fellow runner on that Sunday. “And then you did stop breathing. So I started CPR.”

Rossman was the first to respond to Brenner after she saw him go down. Then, the cavalry came. A woman held his head so it wouldn’t touch the ground. Another man held his legs up so he’d be comfortable.

“There was another guy that the whole time was your cheerleader. He kept saying, ‘C’mon Dave! You’ve got this Dave!’”

Paramedics arrived shortly after and took over.

On Sunday, a week after fate brought Brenner and Rossman together to save Brenner’s life, the two met again and talked about his near-death moment, where Rossman said every second felt like an hour.

“There were 6,000 racers out there,” Brenner joked, “and I’m the only one who died.”

The two runners came into the Portland Marathon with two very different histories. Brenner said he’s run one marathon a year every year since he turned 44. Rossman ran in her first one last Sunday.

“I’m retired,” she said. “I’m one and done.”

Kirstyn Rossman talks with Dave Brenner a week after she helped save him during the Portland marathon. (KOIN)

But before Rossman could finish, she had to stop and save Brenner’s life. She estimates the interaction took between 5-10 minutes, though she’s not really sure.

“This was so hurting your time!” Dave joked with her.

Once the paramedics took over and Rossman’s job was done, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to finish the race. She called her husband. He reminded her how hard she had worked over the past 6 months to prepare for the race. He told her to at least try and finish.

“So I thought of you,” Rossman said. “And I really did think (that) you didn’t get to finish.”

Brenner interjects.

“You know,” he said, a smile teasing the inevitable quip. “You could have grabbed my bib and got me a finisher medal.”