Masters legend Harold Morioka faces heart surgery today

Harold at Kamloops in July.

Harold Morioka may be the Job of masters track, suffering more than his share of physical afflictions and other issues. Now he faces one of his biggest tests — open-heart surgery today. Harold sent Doug Smith of Ontario a “dear friends” letter that ended with this amazing promise: “I’ve already booked and paid for my room in Kamloops for the World Indoor track and field championships in March. I plan to make a comeback so I’ll have to get ready for the meet.” If anyone can do it, it’s Harold. Please join me in wishing him a godspeedy recovery! Here’s what Harold wrote Wednesday: “Dear Friends, Last Friday I was given some bad news. I had been experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath for a few months. Lately it was difficult for me to jog even one lap of the track. I was getting out of shape … so I thought. After visits to my doctor, a cardiologist and finally to St. Paul’s Hospital for an angiogram, I was told I needed to have open-heart surgery. I haven’t been given a date but it will be soon, probably in September.”

Here’s the rest of Harold’s note to Doug:

There are three main arteries that feed the heart, one on the left, one in the middle and one on the right. The arteries start at the top of the heart and each of these arteries have more branches as they go down the heart. I have 90% blockages in my main artery and in the one on the left.

Unfortunately these blockages are at the very beginning of the arteries so apparently it is very dangerous. I have two more blockages of 70% in my main artery further down. I have another 70% blockage in my left artery. My right artery has two 30% blockages and a 40% blockage, but fortunately these blockages are further down. I have a few more smaller blockages in the smaller arteries. I’m a mess.

The surgeon said that they cannot clear the 90% blockages because of their location. At the very least, I will require a double by-pass for these two main arteries. What else they do will depend on what they see when they enter my heart. They will probably find that my heart is filled with friends. Don’t take them out!

After the operation and some rest I will resume training. Jogging one lap of the track will no longer be a problem. I’ve already booked and paid for my room in Kamloops for the World Indoor track and field championships in March. I plan to make a comeback so I’ll have to get ready for the meet.

Late this afternoon (Wednesday) I received a call from St. Paul’s Hospital. I’m going in Thursday morning for my pre-operation prep. I’m having my heart surgery on Friday. By Tuesday I should be able to start a little jogging down the hallway.

Doug Smith added:

Harold is one of the most well-liked people that I’ve met in all my years in the Masters. In lieu of him dealing with a ton of get well messages, I wished him the best of luck from all his friends across Canada.

Print Friendly

September 4, 2009

25 Responses

  1. Nolan Shaheed - September 3, 2009

    Hey Harold, I hope you have a speedy recovery and arrive at peak fitness quickly. We will see you in Kamloops.
    Nolan Shaheed

  2. Anonymous - September 4, 2009

    Hey Harold, I pray you have a safe speedy recovery.. Look forward to seeing you in Kmaloops!
    Marie Kay

  3. Stephen Robbins - September 4, 2009

    Your fierce determination assures me that you’ll have a quick and full recovery.
    I look forward to seeing you at the starting line soon.
    Your buddy,

  4. Roger Pierce - September 4, 2009 are one of the toughest competitors on the planet, and my thoughts and prayers are with you. Like Steve and others, we all look forward to seeing you on the starting line. Stay tough and get well.
    GodSpeed my friend,

  5. peter taylor - September 4, 2009

    You’re a fantastic runner, Harold, and you have thrilled spectators and athletes alike with your beautiful style. In addition, they have admired your courage in the late stages of the race.
    You won’t be able to do too much in the first few days after surgery, but once things settle down for you I expect that your recovery will be rapid. Do well in Kamloops.

  6. Tony Plaster - September 4, 2009

    I don’t think I have ever heard a more beautifully courageous than “my heart is filled with friends, don’t let any out.” I don’t know you Harold but my BEST wishs for you today and forward

  7. see you in kamloops - September 4, 2009


  8. Bill Collins - September 4, 2009

    Harold, My good friend, I wish the very best and a speedy recovery. All of us in your track and field family will have you in our prayers. You have set standards that we all are following today.
    Bill Collins

  9. Steve Kemp - September 4, 2009

    I wish Harold a full recovery. We are all looking forward to seeing him again, on the track and off. What a great human being he is.

  10. George Cohen - September 4, 2009

    Harold, It’s been quite a few years since we bumped heads in a race. I think you are just trying to find an excuse to try a different distance. Get well in a hurry and come keep me company.

  11. Sid Howard - September 4, 2009

    Hey Harold, I’m sorry to hear about your heart problem, i hope and pray that you make a speedy recovery. Your ability to break world records from the 60m to the 800m put you in a class by your self. I’m glad i have a 3 year break from raceing you again, the last time you beat me up real good and broke the world record that I set in the 800. Harold you’re the best, i’ll see you in Kamloops.

  12. Karla Del Grande - September 4, 2009

    Harold, it’s obvious that you are in the hearts of many in our Masters track and field world, including mine. You are very highly respected as a competitor, record keeper for our Canadian Masters, coach, and friend. I wish you all the best, and admire your determination to be there in Kamloops. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

  13. Ron Kirkpatrick - September 5, 2009

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  14. al cestero - September 5, 2009

    harold, i never had the pleasure of meeting you, but i look forward to doing so some day. i pray that your surgery goes well and you heal quickly. i’m certain that your competitive nature will insure that you do, along with all of the masterstrack community’s prayers. may god bless you and your family…albert

  15. Paul Edens - September 5, 2009

    Hi Harold…No matter what the Doc says, you have a very good heart. I remember 1985 in Rome our North American 4×100 team (you, Wilfredo Picorelli, Dennis Dyce and me) took silver, my first ever international medal. I had to leave before the award ceremony. Two years later our paths crossed again in Eugene and you reached in your bag and pulled out a shiny silver medal and said, “Got something for ya”. At that moment I knew we would be lifetime friends and that you have a heart of gold. You have a way of always pulling something good out of a bag and I feel strongly that you will do it again and have a speedy recovery. I look forward to seeing you again on the track, my friend…Paul

  16. Grant Lamothe - September 5, 2009

    It’s heartwarming (no pun intended) and gratifying to see these warm comments from all you, including many lunimaries in the world of masters track and field, directed at my good friend Harold Morioka.
    As an update, Harold had the surgery yesterday (Friday August 4) and it was successful. It was a quadruple bypass, which means all of Harold’s main coronary arteries should be good as new, and Harold is now resting and recuperating in ICU at St Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.
    Thanks again to all of you for your concern, your good comments and warm wishes.
    regards to all, Grant Lamothe

  17. Grant Lamothe - September 7, 2009

    As a further update, yesterday (Sunday) at about 48 hours post-surgery, Harold was taken off the Intensive Care Unit and put on the regular Hospital ward. Meaning, he is out of the critical post-op phase and should certainly have a good and normal recovery from this point. -Grant Lamothe

  18. peter taylor - September 7, 2009

    Thanks, Grant, for keeping us updated. Please, if you could, give us further updates on (a) Harold’s eventual discharge from the hospital and (b) his return to normal activity and then to training.
    Sid Howard and I, when we talk about the outstanding runners of the past 25 years, always refer to Harold as “The Great Harold Morioka.” Everyone is pulling for him.

  19. Don McMillan - September 7, 2009

    Speedy recover Harold. Even though you have kicked my butt everytime we have raced in the 800m, I’m looking forward to you kicking it again. Take care.

  20. Grant Lamothe - September 7, 2009

    Here’s another update on Harold’s recovery from our (mine and Harold’s) track club.
    Harold is continuing to recover on the ward. However, he is still heavily sedated and asks that no one visits him for now, since he is tired and not able to talk much. A close friend of Harold’s delivered the card that we all signed for him and read to Harold all of our good wishes for his speedy recovery. (Diane (Palmerson), I included yours and the 1400 masters worldwide who received Harold’s message about his health.) Harold was cheered by this and had the card posted in the room where he can look at it.
    Sounds like Harold is on the road to recovery.
    I’ll keep y’all posted on Harold’s progress, including the items that you mentioned, Peter T.
    By the way, Peter, I gotta attend a meet where you are the announcer. Maybe you’d consider announcing at the Kamloops Indoor Worlds (Harold’s comeback meet)?? We could help pay your way out there.

  21. peter taylor - September 8, 2009

    Thanks for update, Grant. Ken Stone has my e-mail address if you want to ask me about Kamloops 2000.

  22. peter taylor - September 8, 2009

    I meant 2010, of course. I announced Kamloops 2000 (outdoor champs for Canada and NCCWAVA, or whatever it was called).

  23. Rich Tucker - September 9, 2009

    Hi Harold; Don McMillan told me of your heart surgery. We’re all pulling for you to have a speedy recovery. I’m 65 in March and looking to compete against you again in Kamloops :-) Rich

  24. Grant Lamothe - September 9, 2009

    Here’s the latest update on Harold, which I received today (Wednesday).
    Harold was feeling much better and hoped to walk down the hallway later in the day. He expects to be discharged on Thursday or Friday and feels that he will be more comfortable to receive visitors, once he is at home.
    Oh, and nice to hear from you, Rich Tucker (Yakima’s fastest oldster). I look forward to seeing you, and maybe racing with you and Harold, at Kamloops.

  25. David Pain - September 16, 2009

    I remember how well you ran at the National Championships in San Diego 1989. My best wishes to you for a complete recovery and hope to see you on the track in the future.

Leave a Reply