COLORADO SPRINGS — A runner who suffered from a cardiac arrest was finally able to meet and thank the team that dropped everything to save his life at a special meet and greet that took place at the Rock Ledge Ranch Gazebo.

“It’s just an honor to be here to have this opportunity to say thank you to people and meet them because I was dead. And so being able to run with them has been so great,” Mark Smith said.

Smith is alive today and returned to the Garden of the Gods 10M/10K/Trail Race with a special request: to meet the team that bravely stepped in and saved his life.

In 2021, Smith suffered from a cardiac arrest during the Trail Race.

“I was running along and I looked down and said ‘oh, there’s Rock Ledge Ranch’… and then I was in the hospital,” Smith said.

The quick actions of several runners and onlookers had kept smith alive for 24 minutes before he was able to get an automated external defibrillator (AED).

“We, just as a group were like okay, we got to start compressions and everyone get in line we need to do this,” said Kathy Cheney, one of the runners who stepped in to help.

“I was dead for 24 minutes. But you were there. You dropped to the ground and started compressions or in some other way kept me alive for those 24 long minutes when the AED arrived,” said Smith. “Because of what you did that day, I lived. You did that. I want to say thank you. I want to meet the team that saved my life.”

Smith participated in the Trail Awards presentation and provided a special thank you to the running community during post-race festivities.