Never Miss a Beat


Photo by: Karwaan Kotwal

Senior Cross Country and Track Captain Jonathan Mason has becoming a shining example of grit, perseverance, and tenacity against the unprecedented as he shares his struggle with “Supraventricular Tachycardia.”

Mason is a man of many trades. He’s known to many as a devoted Eagle Scout, an avid runner, a voracious mountain biker, a connoisseur of music of the rap genre, and even a skilled woodworker. He spends his time cultivating his many crafts, whether that be through finding new trails to bike or run on, burning hours worth of Jean Dawson’s discography onto CDs, or handcrafting his own pens out of wood. 

Even after his diagnosis of Supraventricular Tachycardia, a heart condition that prompts irregularly fast and erratic beating above the heart’s two lower chambers, Mason continues to defy odds and refuses to allow his circumstances to hinder him or his passion for the things he cherishes most in life.

Towards the end of his first outdoor track season in May of 2021, Mason began to regularly feel lightheaded and abnormal intensification of his heart rate after workouts or races. Those symptoms continued and worsened through the end of outdoor track and into the subsequent cross country season.

“It began to really take a toll on my ability to perform to an advanced degree, and it made running less enjoyable for me despite how much I loved the sport,” said Mason. “I suddenly found myself struggling with it and I had to begin taking precautions of my own to prevent myself from passing out.”

Mason spent the following year in and out of cardiologist appointments seeking answers for his seemingly inexplicable symptoms. 

“Every cardiologist I visited cleared me to run,” said Mason. “Nobody could figure out what the actual issue was, which made it difficult to manage my symptoms.”

Stepping into his senior year cross country season and into a captaincy leadership position, Mason persisted through his symptoms. He spent his summer leading pre-season conditioning practices twice a day and working at Trek, a bike shop in Leesburg where he could immerse himself in his mountain hobby.

“The team needed leadership, and I was determined to provide it for them for as long as I was able to,” said Mason. 

Mason’s condition only worsened as he continued to train alongside the team. His perseverance to maintain his leading status on the team was soon endangered by his newly developing difficulty to finish his 5k distance races without complications.

“This last season went really well as a whole, but it was pretty discouraging when I had to drop out of a couple races because my heart wasn’t working and I didn’t understand why,” said Mason. 

Mason eventually sought answers from medical professionals at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, a medical center in Baltimore, Maryland. It was in this facility that they were able to catch his irregular heartbeat on a monitor and finally provide him with his SVT diagnosis. 

“It was incredibly relieving to finally receive a diagnosis, however, it was also frustrating that they hadn’t figured it out sooner,” said Mason.

With his diagnosis came considerable forethought regarding his future as an athlete. Mason was presented with many options, all of which he weighed over his three and a half month hiatus from running and most of which he opposed due to their impermanence. 

“After much discussion with doctors and with my family, we decided the best option to improve my condition was undergoing surgery because of its longevity,” said Mason. 

On Feb. 8, returned to Johns Hopkins to undergo a cardiac ablation, a procedure designed to stimulate the effects of SVT through the utilization of electric sensors. This would assist surgeons in cauterizing certain parts of the heart in an effort to coerce the beat of the heart back into regularity. 

Although uncertainty lies in the success of the procedure, Mason is optimistic that he is a step closer to making his return to the track as captain of the distance team this upcoming spring. 

“Whether the surgery worked or not will only be told with time, but I’m feeling hopeful that our efforts will at least improve the condition if nothing else,” said Mason.

No stranger to persistence, he will continue to defy the odds that come his way as he begins the road to recovery with more rest, careful monitoring of his heart’s rhythmic patterns, and easement back into running. 

Luckily for Mason, the road to recovery is one he can run.