Ironman Triathlete Returns After Heart Attack

PANAMA CITY BEACH - Nearly 3,000 Ironman Florida competitors are headed home Sunday evening after conquering one of the biggest events of the year.

Competitors train for more than 5 months before these races, a feat that requires immense dedication.

Jim Oldfield from Michigan has run in dozens of triathlons after a terrifying moment years ago forced him to reevaluate his life.

In 2003, Jim Oldfield suffered a heart attack while smoking a cigarette and had a triple bypass surgery.

Jim's Wife, Deb Oldfield said, "Its like from night to day. Its like he had a rebirth."

"I heard a question, but I really didn't hear a voice. It said, 'Do you want to live?' And I said, 'Yes,' Jim said.

"I was not going to eat like I used to eat. I was not going to going to smoke. I'm going to take care of my health," he said.

Two years later, he began running 5K races.

In 2007, four years after his heart attack, Jim bought a bike, and his love for triathlons grew.

He said, "It still surprises me. Believe me it surprises me even."

Three years ago he was rescued from the water during the Ironman Florida in Panama City Beach, and he never finished the race.

This year, he came back to try again.

Jim made it to mile 70 on the bike course before he had a leg injury and had to stop.

His determination and perseverance motivated someone else to cross that finish line. His wife, Deb.

"Last year I completed in my first triathlon at 60. That was pretty earth shattering for me. It's not all about finishing. It's about the training and about just getting to the starting line. That's the whole thing. If you make it to the starting line you've already won," she said.

Jim won the American Heart Association Lifestyle Change Award in Michigan twice.

He is part of an organization called Mended Little Hearts, for children born with heart defects.