snapped his tibia like kindling also tore his skin open as it landed. A good friend at the scene described it as “bones sticking out all over. “Muscle and bone were open to the elements, causing a ceaseless string of infections and harsh prescription antibiotics. Surgical treatment after surgical treatment, the leg wouldn’t, couldn’t, heal.The 3rd strike was Dave Mackey.Rocks are difficult. Dave Mackey is harder. Mackey, using his walking prosthetic in his Leadville, Colorado house. Greg Mionske Greg Mionske
Just after dawn on August 18, 2018, 48-year-old
Leadville, Colorado, a slight drawback in his stride. It’s Mackey’s third race in 8 days. He completed a 100-mile mountain bicycle a week ago and ran a path 10K the next day. Earlier in July, he paired a 50-mile mountain bicycle race on Saturday with a 50-mile ultra on Sunday. And he started the summer running a path marathon with more than 6,300 feet of elevation gain. Now, he’s tackling the Leadville Path 100-Mile Run, and he has to do with 20 miles in. This barrage of occasions is the Leadman and Leadwoman Race Series. All 6 races begin and complete in rugged, thin-aired Leadville, Colorado(elevation 10,152 feet). Just about 100 endurance
professional athletes attempt the challenge each year and fewer than half finish. Mackey’s done it in the past, back in 2014. He can be found in 2nd. This year is extremely different. “Just 80 more to go,”he quips as passes the help station. Mackey leaves downtown Leadville, approximately a half mile into the Leadville Path 100 Run. Greg Mionske Greg Mionske Dave Mackey is the kind of fast
that never leaves. Even throughout his 15 months of post-fall recovery,
minutes quicker than when he raced it in 2014, four years more youthful and on 2 excellent legs.But on foot, descents cost him time. It’s where he used to excel
, his edge in races. As rivals chose their way down ankle-breaking routes, Mackey danced over them with the skill and speed of an ibex.
Now down to one nimble foot, he steps more carefully; but to be clear, it’s not slow.Even a slower Dave Mackey is quickly, due to the fact that completing a 100-mile ultra to cap off a series of occasions all above 9,000 feet requires, more than anything, that you keep moving on. That’s never ever stopped being his biggest strength.Almost two years after his amputation, you can’t state he’s proceeded– part of his leg will always be missing– but he has absolutely progressed. See him off the trails and it’s tough to tell it even occurred, at least when pants cover the prosthetic. In his eyes there’s no tip of discomfort, suffering, or scarring. His stance is comfortable and unwinded. And he speaks about his mishap with the logic of an actuary. If he ‘d had his mishap in his 20s, he ‘d be devastated. His 70s or 80s would be much better, he adds, however 40s isn’t bad. Is he joking? Yes and no.His experience as a doctor assistant provides context
. From his job, Dave Mackey knows bad. Losing a leg is a challenge, he states, but not bad, especially listed below the knee. A stroke, he says, is bad. A freak mishap, like becoming a quadriplegic, is bad. He has a challenge.The accident freed Mackey from the requirements of combating to be the fastest at every event. No longer gunning for wins and records, Mackey doesn’t do speed workouts any longer. That’s fine by him– he never ever liked them anyway. Now he delight in what he considers trash miles. Running for running’s sake, he says, smiling. He is still fast.Dave Mackey’s hindsight about that May day is
clear. He could have discovered that the current spring rains had actually softened the mountain scree. He could have seen that other rocks had moved. And he could have utilized two hands, rather of one, to constant himself.Mackey had actually left his home in Stone, Colorado, on a wet morning to go to the summit of South Boulder Peak, follow a ridgeline to the top of Bear Peak, and then tag the Green Mountain top.
The path, he approximates,”is probably a 15-or 17-mile loop. I don’t track any of that stuff.”As he started his descent of Bear Peak, Mackey stepped on a giant rock– one he states he ‘d stepped on hundreds of times in the past.
The rock moved, and the ground shifted, collapsing underneath him. He clawed at stones and brush to stop the fall, however nothing held. He toppled 50 feet down the steep, rocky slope. When he lastly came to a stop, he was on his back, and the 300-pound rock was pinning that left leg
to the ground. Mackey passes near the Leadville Path 100 Run Twin Lakes help station. Greg Mionske Greg Mionske Later, Mackey will state that the rock landing on his leg was fortunate: It might have squashed his head or chest. He’s earnest, but after a time out, his dry humor adds, “Or it could have missed me totally. “Paul Gross, a good friend, 53, was out for his own trail run when he heard Mackey screaming.
911, Gross utilized a branch as a lever to raise the rock off Mackey’s shattered leg. Mackey saw bone all over and exposed muscle. However the sight was assuring. A physician, he noted a lack of pooling blood. That informed him he was going to live.Lucid in spite of the fall and the discomfort, Mackey told Gross to hold the leg in traction. That required pulling the leg down from listed below the fracture to realign the bones and unwind the muscles. “I could feel the bones grinding,”he says.”Dave was shrieking in pain.”More runners and rescuers, including 24 volunteer members of the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, got to the scene. They administered IV pain relievers and ketamine before Gross aligned Mackey’s leg. The team put the leg in an extremity splint, and after that put Mackey in a full-body vacuum splint, secured to a steel litter. A precarious evacuation ensued with anchored ropes, belays, and cautious hands bring Mackey’s stretcher away from the dropoff and down the high, rocky slopes to the trailhead. Mackey calls this part surreal. Packaged in the litter and
covered with a heat blanket and sleeping bag, he keeps in mind enjoying the sky and trees pass above. “I ‘d call it a soothing experience,”he says.”Compared to prior hours, it was pretty relaxing.” Four hours after his fall, Mackey reached the trailhead, with his partner Ellen waiting for him.”I was so shocked he was talking, “she says.” You could see the exposed muscle and bone … the way he was so calm was odd to me.”Mackey was rushed to the Stone Community Hospital, where he was supported and sent on to a specialty hospital in Denver, where he underwent his first of 14 surgical treatments. Mackey’s wife and boy guide him through the outgoing Twin Lakes help station near mile 38. Greg Mionske Greg Mionske Regardless of excelling at a sport that requires hours of silent, solo training, Dave Mackey is not a self-obsessed professional athlete. Prior to the mishap, Mackey would awaken at 4 a.m. to train on the bike or on foot to be back in time to stroll the kids to school. And when asked about his desire to return to running, Mackey clarifies that” running isn’t everything, “but confesses remains in his Top 5. In his Top 5 are his child Ava, 10, kid
Connor, 8, better half Ellen, 48, and his career.Dave Mackey as soon as competed in a six-day, 300K snowshoe race through– 35 ° F weather condition. The prize was a winner-take-all one-carat diamond worth about$11,000. He
‘s most significant finish-line smiles ever recorded began Dad’s Day weekend, 2018. As he approached completion of the first Leadman occasion, the trail marathon, Ava and Connor emerged from the crowd to speed him home. Mackey is generally smiling in race photos. It’s a hybrid grin-grimace, like he’s laughing at himself in acknowledgment of the absurdity of what he’s doing. With Ava and Connor, his face relaxes and his eyes brighten. He’s truly smiling. A post shared by Dave Mackey(@mackeydave1 )on Jun 17, 2018 at 5:33 am PDT He’s not one to concentrate on himself, says Ellen. Though he is the meaning of a winner, a book champ,” he’s always rooted for the underdog. “He gravitates towards jobs that assist other individuals, she states. When he first moved to Colorado 26 years earlier, Mackey operated at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, teaching adaptive professional athletes to ski. He’s also led wilderness courses for Outward Bound, worked as a rock-climbing guide, and taught science and social studies at a high school in an underserved Denver area. Mackey consistently downplays his race achievements when talked to. For every single course record, he states, there was a DNF (likely an overstatement). Obviously, his DNFs are not from a stopping working of will or strength. It’s a failing stomach, he states. Mackey always raced hard, but occasionally his stomach would close down, close up, leaving liquid to slosh and nutrients to sit unabsorbed Considering that he will not crow over them, understand that his course records have consisted of the Quad Dipsea, Waldo 100K, Headlands 50K, Bandera 100K, and a fastest-known-time for the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, crossing the Grand Canyon and back in simply under seven hours. He has also, by the method, won U.S. trail-running championships at 50K
and 50 miles. Mackey, one day before the start of the Leadville Path 100 Run. Greg Mionske Greg Mionske Without suggesting to, Dave Mackey downplays his amputation, calling it”a trouble.”Following up for focus, he raises it to “a real discomfort in the ass.”His preliminary surgical treatment didn’t take, due to infection, so medical professionals eliminated pieces of bone and attached an external fixator, an unwieldy medical gizmo that surrounded his entire lower leg, with screws extending from inside his leg bones to the framework of the device. He wore the cumbersome”ex-fix “for the next 3 months, walking with crutches and a heavy limp, and typically in pain. “Using it was like an iron lung for the leg,”he states.”Not pleasant to walk in.”More surgeries, with numerous bone, muscle, and skin grafts, followed. “He wasn’t himself all that time,”says Ellen. “It was hard on everybody.”Hard is relative.” Minutes were hard, “Mackey counters.”It was absolutely a funk throughout that first summertime. In the fall, the scar tissue in my leg was unpleasant.” He quickly includes,”It wasn’t consistent pain, on my back in misery. It was discouraging, for sure. “Good friend and fellow racer Bob Africa, 46, saw Mackey’s disappointment.”This person who was constantly strong and durable, happy-go-lucky and silly, is simply hurting, “he says. “There was a sadness.
return toa sense of normalcy.”More than a year after the fall, Mackey’s leg still wouldn’t recover, hindered by constant infection. He couldn’t run, ski, climb up, and even walk his kids to school without limping in pain. The only future he saw for his leg was more hurt.Around 4:00 p.m. Dave Mackey reaches Winfield Help Station, halfway turnaround of the Leadville Path 100. He doesn’t wish to leave. He’s blown, he informs Africa, his pacer. His quads, his hip flexors, they’re gone. He’s done, not going to finish.Africa knows Dave Mackey, and he knows he’s not done. So Africa starts a magic act, passing him ibuprofen, rubbing his legs, feeding him, getting him rehydrated. Body sated, Africa carries on to Mackey’s mind.”
Simply stroll out of the help station so everyone can cheer for you, “he informs Mackey,”and when we get around the corner, you can call it.”Mackey agrees and starts walking. There’s an enormous climb ahead, however uphills are much easier, putting less pressure on his residual limb. Mackey is building momentum at the Mile 55.5 Hope Pass Summit( elevation 12,600 feet) help station, and they stop just enough time for Africa to refill their water.Dave Mackey’s Race Gear At Mile 60, he’s rolling and there’s a cheering area staked out.
Ellen, Ava, Connor, and pals clap, hoot, and shriek for Mackey. There, 10 miles after begging to give up, Mackey felt like he ‘d won the whole thing. The descents still harmed. His stump rubs with every action down the steep, rutted, loose-dirt roads. But over the climbs back to downtown Leadville, Mackey’s revival continues. At Mile 69 he’s passed 107 runners because Winfield, and by Mile 87, another 41. Mackey takes in mid-race nutrition near mile 70. Greg Mionske Greg Mionske Fifteen months after the accident, he didn’t have
a left leg, he had an anchor. Whenever he attempted to do something, he was consulted with discomfort holding him back, dragging him down. Bone and muscle grafts might
n’t take, under the attack of infection. Scar tissue brought more harmed. Even the rod holding his tibia together stopped working. In September of 2016, after consulting surgical professionals and amputees, Mackey decided to have his left leg cut off below the knee. It wasn’t about running, he says. “I wanted to be as functional as possible and not in pain, for my family. “Ellen states, “As soon as he made the decision, I might see the relief on his face.” Here, Mackey concurs, saying it was a weight off his shoulders.The night prior to surgery was Halloween. With his spirits and humor returning, Mackey had a going-away celebration for his leg. He impersonated an old man with a walking cane, and had friends sign his skin.After the surgical treatment, it took Dave Mackey a year to relearn how to run. When inquired about this obstacle, he highlights determining where his stump would blister, taping it much like he found out to
tape his feet for ultras. He compares
adjusting from his 46-year-old lower left leg to a carbon prosthetic to swapping out your old running shoes for a brand-new set with a different heel drop. With practice, he says, muscles get used to it. He lost a quad muscle above
the amputation, too, but his remaining muscles did adjust.”I ‘d be a bit more shaky without it,”he jokes. The prosthetic is developed for running, a triangular carbon blade with an outsole glued to the bottom. To choose a run, he tapes up and after that pulls a mesh sock over the rounded point listed below the knee
When he stands, the blade compresses under his weight. This is his leg now.At 4:55:14 a.m., on August
19, Dave Mackey ends up being the last
runner to end up under 25 hours for the 2018 Leadville Path 100. That earns him the big finishers’belt buckle. He smiles. He hugs Ellen. When the emcee requests a few words about the race, he offers just that, smiling however deadpan:” It was brutal.”Hours later Mackey states,”Well, I got my qualifier to Western States.”He’s joking, but likewise not.
He will sign up for the 100-miler. And days later on, in interviews, Dave Mackey doesn’t minimize Leadman, calling his surface his “hugest accomplishment. “However he quickly adds he hopes there’s something greater in shop. Asked why Leadman didn’t produce a teary finish-line moment, he runs the emotional mathematics
and responds, “Death is something to sob over.
Leadman is not, for me.”He ended up 12th in the Leadman series, far better than he expected, however he doesn’t act pleased with himself. He says his 2nd-place Leadman in 2014 was more painful. His understanding of discomfort, he tries to discuss, is more abstract.Anyway, he says, he’s a get it done and move on guy. Mackey, quickly after completing the Leadville Path 100 Run. Greg Mionske Greg Mionske Mackey kisses his spouse at the Leadville Path 100 Run finish. Greg Mionske