By Stephen Dethrage
The Tuscaloosa News, Ala.
MEMPHIS — Manuel Jimenez was four miles short of finishing a charity marathon in Memphis, Tennessee, on Saturday when a doctor pulled him from the race after noticing the paramedic firefighter from Northport was struggling to stay on his feet.
No one could fault Jimenez for being fatigued — he’d just run 22 miles wearing his full, 60-pound set of firefighting gear in an effort to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — but the doctor suspected there was more to it than that.
"Around the 15th mile, my shin started bothering me, and I thought it was probably just shin splints," Jimenez said. "By mile 18, 19, 20, it was killing me. When the doctor stopped me around mile 22, he said I wasn’t going to be able to finish. He said I might have a fracture."
Jimenez was pulled from the race and returned home Sunday, where he was checked out at DCH Regional Medical Center. There, Jimenez found the marathon doctor’s concerns were well-founded. Sometime during the race, he fractured the tibia in his left leg.
The 4-inch stress fracture left Jimenez in a cast, and he won’t be able to go back to work for six to eight weeks. Even so, he said Monday that he has no regrets about running the race because through it, he was able to raise nearly $8,000 for St. Jude.
"All this pain I’m feeling, it’s worth every bit of it," Jimenez said. "I don’t regret running in my gear, I don’t regret pushing it, because the kids at St. Jude, they deserve that money. They're going through much more than this."
Jimenez also said he plans to run the marathon again next year and hopes to raise at least $10,000 for the hospital this time.
"This is just the beginning," Jimenez said. "I’m going to do it again next year, wearing my gear again, and I’m going to conquer it."
— The Tuscaloosa News (@tuscaloosanews) December 6, 2016
McClatchy-Tribune News Service