Luck definitely on cyclist's side

19:24, Nov 14 2013
Martyn Hambyln
DEATH RACE: Martyn Hambyln came back from the dead after suffering a heart attack during a cycling race.

Martyn Hamblyn shouldn't be alive today.

Nearly two weeks ago the avid cyclist was competing in the Coromandel's K2 cycle race when he suffered a massive heart attack.

It is estimated the 42-year-old lay dead on the roadside for four minutes. He was only saved by sheer luck when two health professionals - one a fellow competitor - discovered him.

CPR nurse Tracey Race and Auckland anaesthetist Christopher Smit worked on him for 30 minutes and brought him back to life.

The avid Ngatea cyclist had no history of heart problems.

Hamblyn collapsed during the race on November 2 and after the brush with death that saw him flown to Auckland hospital for surgery is now home recovering with his family and looking forward to his next ride.


Hamblyn was competing in the 100-kilometre portion of the race with his daughter, Kayla. Both were cycling well and they were keeping pace with each other. They were over the Kopu-Hikuai hills and nearing Tairua. "I felt really good," he said.

"I was feeling hungry and I ate a banana. I started feeling like I had indigestion."

He lost his energy and dropped to the back of the group they were in while his daughter carried on.

She later finished first in her division of 14 and 15-year-olds, unaware of her father's perilous condition.

"I had a tingling in both arms. I've had some first aid training and knew it wasn't a good sign but thought ‘surely not'," Hamblyn said.

He then got back on his bike, rode another 100 metres, but couldn't hold on any more.

He rested the bike against a tree and sat down. The next thing he knew, he was in Auckland City Hospital.

Race, who teaches CPR, drove past just after Hamblyn keeled over and stopped to help. She said he was "blue from ear to ear". She had never seen anyone in such a bad state in 19 years as an intensive care nurse.

Given the time he had been without a pulse she was not sure he could be saved.

"If we got him back we might get him as a vegetable and it might be worse."

Race organised bystanders to do chest compressions and breathing before Smit, also cycling in the race, arrived to help out.

After having his heart shocked with a defibrillator Hamblyn started regaining consciousness.

He was flown to Auckland Hospital, where he had emergency surgery to put a stent in one of his coronary arteries, which was completely blocked with cholesterol.

Hamblyn is in great physical condition, eats well and has no indication of high cholesterol levels.

But he some of his uncles, a grandfather and his grandfather's brother all died from heart attacks.

Hamblyn said he was grateful to everyone who helped him.

"Every day's a good day to be alive. I want to get back on my bike and spend time with my family."

He's been told to take it slow for a few weeks and he has further tests scheduled to track his progress..

Race said Hamblyn was lucky she had not been riding in the race and there were people to help.

"I've looked after so many patients but he's probably my best save . . . you're not just saving one man. He's potentially a father and uncle. You are saving so many lives from grief."

Fairfax Media