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Recovered Rybak skis the Loppet four weeks after heart attack

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Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was back in his cross country skis Saturday evening, taking part in an annual winter weekend event that's close to his heart.

KSTP reports that Rybak, 58, joined 7000 other cross country skiers to travel the 2-mile course of the Luminary Loppet event on Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis. WCCO notes that the mayor, an outdoors enthusiast and an avid fitness fan, helped create the City of Lakes Loppet Festival in 2002. On Saturday, thousands of spectators came to the Uptown area of Minneapolis to watch the skiers traverse the frozen lake amid candlelit luminaries and ice sculptures.

On Jan. 4, just days after leaving office after leading the city for a dozen years, Rybak was skiing by himself in Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis when he suffered a major heart attack. He experienced shortness of breath after his run and was taken to Abbott Northwestern Hospital where doctors performed two angioplasties and inserted six stents. The former mayor said that his attention to good health helped him recover quickly and trump a family history of heart disease.

“Doing things like the Loppet are good for your heart even though, you know, people like me, whose dad had a few heart attacks, are probably a little more likely to have a little setback,” Rybak said. "They told me I had a heart attack because of genetics but I had zero damage because of lifestyle,” he said.

Rybak joked about his limitations, saying he he was not free to fully participate in the event.

"I feel incredibly good," Rybak said. "I feel good enough to ski a race, but my wife over there has one of those little kid harnesses they use in a shopping mall just to keep me from going out, but I'll ski a little tonight and, man, I'm definitely back next year."

Rybak's name has surfaced as a possible running mate for Gov. Mark Dayton. Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon has said she will not be on the ticket with Dayton as he pursues a second term.

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