Flatline to Finish Line Cast

Dave Watkins has brought cardiac athletes together from across 46 states and 9 countries to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease. The documentary follows 8 of these as they come together on a journey from flatline to finish line at Ironman® Arizona.

Dave Watkins, Age 43:
Open Heart Surgery May 20, 2005
Seattle, WA

Flatlined for 5 minutes… No functional heartbeat. Dave’s family was brought into his ICU hospital room to say any ‘last words’ before he was wheeled back in to the operating room. He had just undergone open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve. The doctors were able to bring him back to life. A few weeks later, Dave had a stroke. He once again recovered, and with a new lease on life, Dave became a man on a mission. Dave now uses endurance sports as a way to teach his daughters ‘life lessons.’ Get ready… he’ll probably teach you a few of these lessons as well! The leader of the pack, Dave has set out to find other cardiac patients who are out to prove that your heart can take you farther than you might think.

Ellen Charnley, Age 45:
Open Heart Surgery March 26, 2010
Chicago, IL / Carmel, CA

Planes, trains, and automobiles… Ellen is a true Road Warrior. As a business consultant, Ellen travels the globe, working endless long hours with corporations from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Ellen has lived in London, Bermuda, San Francisco, Hawaii, Las Vegas, and Chicago. Who knows where she’ll end up next! How will she train for Ironman® while living on airplane food and hotel room service, while working out in stuffy, cramped hotel gyms? Where will she find the time?

Now, add to that the fact that Ellen recently found out she was born with multiple holes in her heart and that it was slowly failing. Doctors described her heart as ‘Swiss cheese’ and told her that she needed immediate open-heart surgery to save her life. This was such a life altering experience for Ellen she wrote a book about it (ellenliveslifetothefull.com). Follow Ellen as she navigates through her schedule and pushes her heart beyond boundaries. Good luck Ellen. You’re going to need it!

Adam Knight, Age 27:
Open Heart Surgery March 30, 2010
Seattle, WA

Three heart surgeries all before the age of 25. Adam’s story can stop there. The kid’s body has been traumatized over and over again. He’s never been much of an athlete and he often found himself on the sidelines, but he always stayed active and liked to run and ride his bike. He even played a little water polo. But he never committed. “I don’t like pain.” Those are Adam’s words… heard many times. Who can blame him? He’s suffered more pain at his young age then most experience in a life time.

Adam didn’t even really know what Ironman® was a year ago. But get ready, Adam. You have no idea what you just got yourself into. Pain? You don’t like pain? That’s just plain funny for a guy who’s about to experience 17 hours of it. The difference is that this time he’ll be awake while his body gets traumatized inside and out.

Ryan Leong, Age 42:
Open Heart Surgery December 14, 2009
Honolulu, HI

Paradise: Sandy beaches, tropical drinks with an umbrella, lounging in the warm sun… Sounds good, right? This is not the paradise Ryan lives in. Yes, he lives in Hawaii, but paradise for Ryan is being crouched on his bike for hours in the blistering heat, running until the soles of his shoes begin to melt on the pavement, swimming longer than you’d care to drive your convertible rental car. You see, Ryan NEEDS to go long and hard. The harder his heart works, the longer he’ll live. Ryan has what is called a ‘Stone Heart’. Many have said they’d rather die than race for 140.6 miles. Ryan simply trains and races to live. Ironman® is his paradise.

Jim Oldfield, Age 62:
Open Heart Surgery March 15, 2003
Caledonia, MI

WC Fields once said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” Jim must not be a reader of this humorist icon. After suffering a heart attack and surviving a triple bypass surgery, Jim went from the true couch potato and chronic smoker to Ironman® competitor in just a few years. Jim has attempted Ironman® 140.6, 4 times. Never has he made it to the end.

Race officials have pulled Jim off the course every time he’s attempted to finish. Sometimes he didn’t make the mandatory cutoff times, other times he needed serious medical attention. But for whatever reason, here’s the thing about Jim… he simply won’t stop until he sees the finish line. And when he does, he’ll stay at the finish line cheering on every athlete who crosses and hugging everyone else who doesn’t. Will he make it this time?

Supporting Cast

Dave, Ellen, Adam and Ryan and Jim are joined by fellow cardiac athletes Patrick, Scott, and Jeremy as they commit together to train for a year to complete in the Ironman®. They are all part of the Ironheart Racing Team—a group of cardiac patients, passionate about endurance sports.

Patrick Hight, Age 55:
Heart Surgery – Stents April 2, 2004
Open Heart Surgery July 14, 2008
Austin, TX

Tight chest, difficulty breathing… sound like symptoms of a heart attack? You’re right. 5 stents and a triple bypass heart surgery later, this good ol’ southern gentleman will stand at the starting line for the rest of his life. Patrick isn’t your typical athlete. In fact, exercise wasn’t in his vocabulary until it was almost too late. Growing up a military brat meant moving around a lot. As a result, he was never in one place long enough to establish an ongoing, meaningful athletic experience. Now, his motto is, ‘Do it like it means something, because it does’.

Scott Roy, Age 38:
Open Heart Surgery November 15, 2010
Spokane, WA

Those who can’t do, teach. We’ve all heard that before. This never applied to Scott. As a USAT Level II Triathlon coach and ITCA and USA Swim coach, he helped countless athletes from around the globe. Over 70 have crossed the finish line of Ironman® under his guidance. After a competitive lifestyle as a collegiate swimmer, he soon found himself 40 pounds overweight. Then, he was set back with another hurdle- his mitral valve was failing and needed urgent surgery. He completed 20 marathons and over 75 triathlons of all distances, including the Boston Marathon and Xterra World Championship. You will learn about the recent tragedy that has struck Scott’s family and how an entire community has come together to follow his legacy. Sometimes, out of darkness emerges strength.

Jeremy Woodward, Age 35:
Open Heart Surgery August 3, 2007
New Hampshire

Jeremy must like the number two. Two very young daughters. Two jobs. Two open heart surgeries. Twice he has been in heart failure. As a new dad, Jeremy switched from changing bike tires to diapers. No more water bottles. Now it’s baby bottles. Jeremy doesn’t chase the cycling pack, he now chases two giggling girls until exhaustion. Can you be successful in business, at home and on the race course? That’s what he’s about to find out.

© 2016 Flatline to Finish Line