Australian Native with Thirty Percent Lung Function to Participate in the TCS New York City Marathon for the American Lung Association | American Lung Association

Australian Native with Thirty Percent Lung Function to Participate in the TCS New York City Marathon for the American Lung Association

Russell Winwood Partners with Pulmonary Wellness & Rehabilitation Center to Raise Awareness for COPD

(September 30, 2015) -

Russell Winwood, of Australia is traveling to the city where dreams come true, to pursue one of his own, which is showing the public that those with lung disease are able to stay active. Winwood has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and will participate in the TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 1 for the American Lung Association and Pulmonary Wellness & Rehabilitation Center. He hopes to become the first COPD Stage IV patient to complete the marathon in under six hours without the use of supplemental oxygen.

The TCS New York City Marathon is the premier event of New York Road Runners (NYRR) and the largest marathon in the world. Held annually on the first Sunday in November, the race features the world’s top professional athletes and a vast range of competitive, recreational, and charity runners. The race began in 1970 with just 127 entrants running four laps around Central Park, and expanded citywide in 1976. In 2014, a record 50,530 runners from 130 countries toured New York City’s five boroughs, starting on Staten Island at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and running through the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, before ending in Manhattan at the iconic Central Park finish line.

After completing the 96 Km Kokoda Challenge in Gold Coast Hinterland, Australia, Russell was hooked on the thrill of competing in long distance triathlons. He decided he would compete in his first Ironman Triathlon. During training, Winwood noticed he was left feeling breathless after cycling uphill, swimming and running. As his conditions worsened, Winwood decided to see a Respiratory Specialist, who after conducting pulmonary function testing, found his lungs were operating under 30 percent capacity.

“Being diagnosed with 22% lung function was hard to take, there were some dark days for me as I knew little about COPD. I was told I would possibly need a double lung transplant within 5 years and that I need to try and keep as healthy as possible to be a good candidate,” Winwood said.

Despite his diagnosis, Russell was determined to complete the Ironman Triathlon. He also wanted to use the competition as a platform to raise awareness about lung disease; Winwood volunteered to be featured in a documentary about the race. In May 2012, six months after his COPD diagnosis, Russell completed the triathlon. In 2014, he completed two more Ironman triathlons, making him the only Stage IV COPD patient to complete three Ironman events. Since his first triathlon Russell has chosen to complete a challenging event every year to raise awareness about COPD, asthma and other respiratory diseases.


Noah Greenspan, Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Clinical Specialist for the Pulmonary Wellness & Rehabilitation Center learned about Russell after he wrote an article, called “Five Great Rescources for COPD Support.” ; praising Pulmonary Wellness for their work. Greenspan acts as an advisor to Russell using physiology as a tool to maximize his physical condition and avoid any downfalls that those with lung disease are susceptible to. “Russell understands something that we have known for many years, which is that if you want to improve lung function, you must exercise vigorously. In Russell's case, we are trying to take what we have learned over the past 23 years of working with COPD patients and apply it to Russell so that he can also gain the benefit of our experience in addition to what he has been working on with his coach,” Greenspan said.  

“The Lung Association is happy to have Russell participating in this year’s NYC Marathon,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Russell’s perseverance and determination is something to be admired. We applaud him for his efforts in the marathon and thank him for helping us spread our mission of improving lung health and preventing lung disease.”

In addition to his participation in the TCS New York City Marathon, Russell is creating his own documentary by filming all of his lung testing, training sessions and finish with his completion of the marathon in Central Park. 

“Through my work at the Pulmonary Wellness Center and through my "ultimate Pulmonary Wellness" webinar series, I have always tried to get people to understand that being diagnosed with a lung disease is not a death sentence and that regardless of your current condition, there is always something that you can do to improve the quality of your life,” Greenspan said  


“Our motivation is to raise awareness about COPD and to demonstrate to people who suffer from respiratory disease, that someone with advanced stages of COPD can compete in a challenging event and that they’re own condition should not prevent them from experiencing the thing they want,” Winwood said.

Russell’s wife, Leanne  will also be participating in the marathon to raise a combined fundraising total of $10,000. To learn more about Russell’s participation in the marathon visit his blog, http://copdathlete.com/ or watch his YouTube video, https://youtu.be/KcUjJP22sVw. Those who would like to donate to Russell Winwood, you can go to https://www.crowdrise.com/lungneNYCMarathon2015/fundraiser/russellwinwood. To learn more about the marathon, visit www.tcsnycmarathon.com.

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