Thursday, 16 September 2021

Man with pacemaker in North Pole marathon

A BUSINESSMAN from Medmenham is hoping to become the first person with a pacemaker to complete a marathon at the

A BUSINESSMAN from Medmenham is hoping to become the first person with a pacemaker to complete a marathon at the North Pole.

Mike Shepherd, 49, plans to run 26.2 miles in nine laps around a Russian science station in April.

He had his pacemaker fitted in 2012 after suffering three episodes where his heart stopped for several seconds, meaning he was technically dead.

Mr Shepherd, who is the managing director of independent financial advisers Orchard House, said: “The first time it happened I was in the office by myself and I passed out.

“I was just sitting at my desk answering emails. I felt really, really awful and I could feel everything sliding away. It was a heat that started in my feet and worked its way up my body.”

When he came to he rested and then continued working, not thinking much more about the incident.

A month later he suffered a second episode, again in the office, when he passed out for about 30 seconds.

Mr Shepherd went to see his doctor and was referred to the resuscitation unit at Wycombe Hospital for tests and had a device fitted to monitor his heart rate.

When the third episode happened soon afterwards his wife Lara was able to use the device to record his heart rate before and after the incident and they returned to the hospital.

Mr Shepherd, who is a community first responder who attends emergencies on behalf of the ambulance service, said: “The technician’s face was fantastic because the recording was normal and then I flatlined for 4.2 seconds. The following day I had the pacemaker fitted.”

The episodes were caused by a condition called vasovagal.

He explained: “It basically means the signals from the brain to the heart get muddled up. I had a resting heart rate of 36 beats per minute but it gets bored and stops!”

It was while recovering from his operation that Mr Shepherd came up with the idea of taking part in the marathon.

He said: “I was sitting on the sofa watching television and saw a programme about the North Pole and half of it was about the marathon.”

He will be raising money for Invest in ME, a charity which campaigns for research into myalgic encephalomyelitis, as his 18-year-old daughter Elizabeth has suffered from the condition since she was 12.

His wife suffers from fibromyalgia, which affects her ability to sleep and means she has to use a wheelchair.

Mr Shepherd, who also has a 16-year-old son Ben, a student at The Henley College, is not unduly worried about the marathon.

He said: “I’m one of those people who takes most things in their stride. The only reason I’m apprehensive is because it’s going into the unknown.

“The temperature is likely to be between -25C and -40C but with wind chill that could drop to -60C.This will most likely affect my asthma, which will make it a challenge.

“The thing that keeps me going is my family. All my immediate family think I’m absolutely crazy and my father said he would sponsor me not to do it.” He has previously cycled from Stansted airport to Amsterdam and once rode 150 miles alongside the Great Wall of China. He has also run both the London and Brighton marathons.

Mr Shepherd is seeking corporate sponsorship to help pay towards the cost of his trip and his marathon entry fee. If you can help, email

To make a donation, visit

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