Chance a fine thing as marathon runner saves woman’s life

Cardiology nurse performs emergency CPR on wife of old schoolfriend during Dublin race

A runner saved the life a woman who was married to his school friend during the Dublin marathon on Monday after a series of chance encounters.

Ken Maleady, who is an emergency cardiology nurse at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, bumped into old friend Alan Leech at about 12 miles into the race, having not spoken to him in almost a decade.

Mr Maleady also came across Mr Leech’s wife, Mary, further into the race and ran with her for a couple of miles before parting ways.

Mr Maleady stopped to stretch at the 20-mile mark, assuming Mary – a mother of four - had run on ahead of him. When he got up to start again he saw a woman collapsed on the ground.


“I saw this girl on the ground, and there were a few people around her, and I ran by her. But something told me to look back so I did, I turned back, and it was her, the girl I had been running with.”

“She wasn’t breathing, and her heart wasn’t beating. I started some mouth to mouth, but there was no output really. A paramedic came over with a defibrillator and put the pads on her, but still no output so we continued with CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation].

“It seemed like two or three minutes until her heart started beating again; it was steady, but she wasn’t breathing so I continued with the rescue breaths,” Mr Maleady said.

“ Then we put a drip in her to get some fluids and decided the main priority was to get her to hospital to increase her chances of surviving.

“We got her into the ambulance, and they headed off, and I went off and finished the race,” Mr Maleady told the Ray D’Arcy show on Tuesday.

At this point, Mary’s husband Alan didn’t realise what had happened: “It was only when I got to the end to collect my medal that I went looking for Mary; I found it strange that she wasn’t at the finish line.

“It was then I got the news that she was gone in an ambulance. I thought I was going to find her having had a dizzy spell or some dehydration or something minor.”

Mary is in intensive care at St Vincent's hospital, and the "outlook is positive", Mr Leech told RTÉ.

“She’s sitting up, and she’s talking. She’s a bit disorientated and doesn’t really remember what happened. All she wants to know is how she got on and did she finish the marathon.

“It looks like she’s going to make a full recovery; there’s no damage to her brain, and her heart his fine. All her vitals are good.”

Thanking Mr Maleady for saving his wife’s life, Mr Leech commented on the chances of their meeting: “One of the things we said is, God, it’s amazing the people you see at these marathons.

“What were the chances that he was there – getting that help can be critical in these situations.”

Niamh Towey

Niamh Towey

Niamh Towey is an Irish Times journalist