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Marathon Runner Left In Coma After Drinking Too Much Water

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Marathon Runner Left In Coma After Drinking Too Much Water

Running a marathon, whether slowly or at record-breaking speed, is one of the most impressive things a human being can do.


26.2 miles is a fucking long way, and to think people can run it in under three hours is mind boggling.

Obviously, though, you have to put your body through rigorous training and make sure you look after it during the race. But it's also easy to be too cautious, especially on a scorching hot day like the day of the London Marathon.


Held on 22 April, it was the hottest London Marathon on record, and so runners were hydrating as much as they possibly could to counteract the heat.

Credit: Johanna Pakenham / SWNS.com
Credit: Johanna Pakenham / SWNS.com

But as 53-year-old Johanna Pakenham found out that day, you can over-hydrate.

The mother-of-four crossed the finish line, but has no recollection of doing so. She later collapsed at home and suffered a seizure - in order to keep her alive her husband had to perform CPR.


She had, by drinking too much fluid while running, flushed the sodium out of her system, which resulted in a life-threatening condition known as hyponatremia, a condition that occurs when the concentration of sodium in your blood is abnormally low. It can cause confusion, vomiting, seizures and comas.

Now safely back home, she is trying to warn others of the dangers of consuming too much water.

"I love running and I've been doing it for years," she said. "I've taken part in four marathons - although this was my first one in 15 years.

"I remember starting the race but around half way through is when things start to get hazy.


"I saw my family at the beginning and apparently, I saw them three times throughout, but I have no recollection of that.

"I remember my dad's voice in my head saying 'make sure you stay hydrated' but without the electrolytes, the water was doing more harm and making me worse, there is such a thing as too much water, which I learnt."

Credit: SWNS.com
Credit: SWNS.com

Johanna, who completed the marathon in six hours 35 minutes, estimates she drank a small bottle of water at around 20 water stations, but wasn't drinking anything that had electrolytes in it.


They'd planned to all celebrate her finishing the race with pizza, but as she and her family were driving she began to feel extremely unwell in the car, so they headed home instead.

"When we got back they called 111," she said, "but by the time we'd gotten through all the questions they were asking, I had a massive seizure, which is a common reaction to hyponatremia."

Johanna quickly stopped breathing so her husband Richard, who owns a farm, began trying to resuscitate her. She was then taken to Winchester Hospital, where she fell into a coma for two days and was kept in intensive case.

Unsurprisingly, she doesn't remember much about what happened.


"I had about 400 metres to go and I remember saying 'I'm wobbly' and my family couldn't believe I wasn't going to cross that finish line," she said.

"There's a picture of me taken at the starting line and I look fine, then I had a photo taken at the finish line, I have no recollection of it being taken - I don't recognise that woman in that photo.

"I remember nothing from that Sunday right through to Tuesday. I think I woke up and spoke a little on Wednesday, to be honest, even the next few days were blurry until Saturday - I pretty much lost about a week altogether."

Featured Image Credit: Johanna Pakenham / SWNS.com

Topics: SPORT, Water, Marathon, News, UK, London

Mischa Pearlmen
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