Five Cities Fire Authority firefighter Christopher Martinez collapsed at the finish line of the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach last Sunday, after running the 26.2 miles in full gear to raise money for two local boys with cancer.
“It was brutal,” Martinez recalled Friday. He ran the race wearing his firefighting helmet, protective coat and pants, and self-contained breathing apparatus.
Martinez said he may have started the race too fast, but wearing the thermal liner in his turnout gear, which traps heat and makes him feel as though he’s inside a sauna, forced him to slow down and deal with signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
“At mile 15 I was throwing up everything I tried to drink and eat,” he wrote on Facebook. He dealt with it by holding water or small slices of banana in his mouth, finishing in about 6 hours, 44 minutes.
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“Honestly, the last two to three miles, I was just doing it for the boys and their families,” he said Friday. Martinez wanted to raise at least $10,000 for Phinneus “Phinn” McKenna and Mateo Cota, both of Arroyo Grande.
Phinn was diagnosed in January 2014 with level 4 primitive neuroectodermal tumors, cancerous tumors that can develop in or spread to the brain or spinal cord. Mateo is undergoing a lengthy treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was diagnosed in September 2013.
As of Friday morning, Martinez had raised $19,142. He plans to keep the fundraising site active through Wednesday.
“It was definitely a team effort,” he said.