'Extraordinarily rare and unusual' bowel disorder killed marathon man, inquest told

Less severe ischemic colitis is treated with IV fluids, but the over 60s are most at risk

A fit and healthy 23-year-old man who died halfway through a marathon had been struck down by an “extraordinarily rare and unusual” disease, an inquest has heard.

Sam Harper Brighouse began having difficulties 16 miles into the Brighton Marathon on 14 April this year. Emergency teams rushed to help the stricken runner as he lay on the road, and administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) because they thought he had collapsed due to respiratory problems.

In fact, the biology graduate, who was raising money for the Arms Around The Child charity, which helps Aids orphans, had suffered an extremely rare form of ischemic bowel disease described as “catastrophic and unsurvivable”.

Minor stomach cramps and diahorrea are common afflictions for marathon runners. Ischemic bowel disease, which occurs when blood flow is reduced to the large intestine and is most common in people aged over 60, can affect endurance runners, but they are unlikely to die from it.

Brighton and Hove coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley said the disease was “extraordinarily rare and unusual”.

Mark Taylor, a consultant pathologist at Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital, confirmed that the condition is not usually fatal and said that Mr Harper Brighouse had been particularly unlucky.

“I think when someone collapses in a marathon, the most common thing to think is that they have had a heart attack,” he told the hearing. “The initial reaction would have been to do CPR and that was started rapidly. If he had been taken to hospital immediately, might it have made a difference? I don’t think so.”

Mr Taylor said: “I believe all his bowel was dead at that stage and even if [medical staff] thought of ischemic bowel, it wouldn’t have been any help at that stage. Unfortunately in Sam, it was catastrophic and unsurvivable.”

Cardiac problems among marathon runners are fairly prevalent. Taking part in the London Marathon in 2012, Claire Squires, 30, collapsed in front of Buckingham Palace on the final stretch of the race. An inquest later found that she had suffered a cardiac arrest after high levels of a the fat-burning stimulant that causes increased heart rate were found in her body.

Mr Harper Brighouse would likely have failed to notice abdominal pain because he would have thought it was related to his running, the inquest heard. “When it gets to that critical stage... how much of the bowel has died, [determines] whether the person can survive,” Mr Taylor said.

Ambulance staff also reported difficulties in reaching Mr Harper Brighouse through the crowds. Andrew Parker, a senior South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) member who treated Mr Harper Brighouse, said he had difficulty in identifying the runner who lay on the road some distance from emergency teams.

Mr Parker said he ran 500 yards through the crowds trying to find Mr Harper Brighouse after the marshals were unable to tell him where he was. “In reality, it only took me minutes, as I did run as fast as I could, but obviously minutes in any cardiac incident are crucial,” he said.

It was unlikely the slight delay would have saved Mr Harper Brighouse’s life, he added. When he reached him the runner “had no heartbeat, no pulse and no breathing. From the small amount of history at the event, it was a sudden collapse. I don’t think he would have known anything about it.”

The inquest is due to conclude on Friday.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

    Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

    Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

    £70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions