Trevor Coey finishes ninth overall at the 2017 Finlayson Arm 50km ultra marathon. (Photo courtesy of Trevor Coey)

Trevor Coey finishes ninth overall at the 2017 Finlayson Arm 50km ultra marathon. (Photo courtesy of Trevor Coey)

Vancouver Island long-distance runner looks to regain his stride after losing leg

Running on a blade, a puzzle not easily solved

In 2017, Trevor Coey became a regular on Vancouver Island’s running scene.

He ran roads, trails and mountains, whatever was in front of him, and he had great success doing it considering he started at 39.

Coey, of Central Saanich, entered the 2017 Vancouver Island Trail Running Series and finished on the podium for six of the series’ short-course races, first in the overall short-course standings for the year. He was first in the Mount Washington and Burgoyne Bay (Salt Spring) races, second in Ladysmith and Mt. Tzouhalem and third at Royal Roads and Cobble Hill.

That September, he finished ninth out of 115 finishers in the Finlayson Arm 50-kilometre ultra marathon. It was his first ultra long-distance event. In early February 2018, Coey ran his second ultra-marathon distance, the Orcas Island 50km.

In short, the guy was flying.

READ ALSO: Masters of the mountain high

“I had dove big into big distance. After the second 50 km race I had every intention to step it up to a 50 miler (80 km), and had no question that I would be doing a 100km soon after that,” said Coey, now 44. “Time stands still when I run and everything else just disappears.”

But the Orcas Island was the last organized race for Coey.

Late in February 2018, he spent a day off in Ladysmith helping a friend when he suffered a catastrophic accident. He escaped death but lost his right leg below the knee. In total, he underwent 13 surgeries, nine of them within the first eight weeks.

“My (right) leg was crushed, pelvis shattered, and part of the surgery involved numerous steel bolts and plates, to put it back together,” Coey said.

READ ALSO: Popular Vancouver Island running series offers virtual challenge for 2021

In addition to the physical challenges there were mental challenges, too. Running became a hole his life that he’s had to live without, a daily ritual that he longs to return to. He even met his wife through running. They live together with four boys, aged 6, 8, 14 and 16. And even though he can’t run these days, it remains a priority in his life.

It was 10 months before Coey could work again. He leaned hard on a successful Gofundme fundraiser of $40,000 organized by friends.

Despite the downtimes that Coey has endured, he’s had many to thank since the incident, he says.

“During the two months in hospital the nurses would comment to my wife that we’re having too much fun, that I wasn’t like other patients. I had some down moments, but I don’t think, compared to others, I was that down,” Coey said.

Eventually, he tried enough ‘test sockets’ until he found the prosthesis that he uses for day-to-day use, but it’s not perfect. The shape of his amputated leg continues to change, making it difficult.

All the while, running again has remained his ultimate goal.

“I wouldn’t care if it was road, trail, or anything,” Coey said.

Coey approached some big charities and they’ve helped. The Challenged Athletes Foundation awarded Coey with a high-performance running blade. But right from the start Coey knew it was only a piece of the puzzle.

“I tried it and I felt I like I was running, it was amazing,” Coey said. “Unfortunately, the fit of the socket was not right. But the feeling [of running] was there.”

READ MORE: Central Saanich cop to run 50 miles for Greater Victoria at-risk youth

Another non-profit, Team Catapult, provided a specialty liner that Coey can use in the blade or for everyday use.

Again, it’s another piece of the puzzle, but he still can’t run consistently on the blade.

“It’s genius, such a simple modification,” Coey said.

In the meantime Coey’s tried lifting weights, he’s been cycling (with big thanks to CanAssist for modifying his mountain bike), and he’s spent time on the rowing machine.

But he’s limited on the bike, like the running blade, by the amount of time and distance his right leg can endure in a prosthesis socket.

“With that comes sores and problems, so it’s almost like I can go mountain biking for the exercise and thrill [but] I pay for it afterward, sometimes for months.”

Funding for prostheses is just as complicated. In B.C. you’re funded for basic mobility, Coey said, arguing that PharmaCare can’t dictate what his basic level of mobility is.

For now, Coey is grateful to have escaped the accident with what he did, and believes he might not have made it this far if not for a positive outlook on life that predates the accident.

“When I was in the hospital, this doctor said, ‘All that training you did for ultra running, all that you put yourself through, that mental anguish, that was training for what you’re going to go through,’ that I was about to run the toughest race I’ve ever done, and he was right,” Coey said. “The whole thing has been a race since the accident. I hit walls every day. It’s about adapting and finding new and different ways to do things.”

But Coey dreams of running again.

“I miss that freedom, that rhythm my whole body would get into. My heartbeat, the breathing, the sound of my feet hitting trail and pavement. I’m so happy to be able to have experienced it.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com

 

Trevor Coey atop Mount Work in September. Coey longs to run the roads and trails like he did before he lost his leg in an accident three years ago. (Photo courtesy of Trevor Coey)

Trevor Coey atop Mount Work in September. Coey longs to run the roads and trails like he did before he lost his leg in an accident three years ago. (Photo courtesy of Trevor Coey)

Just Posted

Bobbie Crane is overjoyed that her painting Snowy Owls has been accepted as one of the featured pieces in the 2021 Artists For Conservation’s International Exhibit of Nature in Art. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Cariboo artist featured in international art exhibit

Bobbie Crane’s Snowy Owls painting was chosen for AFC’s Exhibit of Nature in Art.

The District of 100 Mile House office. (File photo)
Immigrant entrepreneur pilot program extended

Regional program attracts cotton manufacturer

Canim Lake carver Jerome Boyce was happy to carve a new Secwepemc entranceway for Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
New Secwepemc entrance for Peter Skene Ogden Secondary

Canim Lake carver Jerome Boyce created the piece out of Western Red Cedar

The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society invites residents in 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Quesnel to participate in “Free Your Things” taking place over the Father’s Day weekend. (Mary Forbes photo)
Cariboo Conservation Society co-ordinating “Free Your Things” Father’s Day weekend

Residents can sign up if they have items they want to give away

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read