Champion trail runner Dave Mackey posted some dramatic news on his Facebook page Thursday about his long recovery from his well-documented trail running accident in May 2015. After more than 16 months of surgeries, physical therapy and continued complications, the 46-year-old trail runner announced that he's decided to have his lower left leg amputated below the knee.
During what was expected to be a routine trail run in the mountains that frame the western edge of Boulder, Colo., Mackey fell off a rock and tumbled more than 20 feet, badly breaking his left leg in the process. After seven surgeries during a three-week hospital stay, Mackey returned home with his injured leg intact, albeit with an external bracing system and crutches to help him get around. Although he recovered enough to walk with a significant limp over the next year, he still had mobility issues, internal infections and constant pain.
Several more surgeries -- including his most recent procedure about three months ago -- helped him walk without a cane. But continued complications with the repaired leg put him in the tough place of opting for more surgeries or permanently amputating his lower left leg. He talked through the scenarios with numerous doctors, as well as family and friends, and decided that he will have the amputation surgery on Nov. 1.
Mackey, a Hoka-sponsored runner who works as a physician assistant, has won U.S. trail running championships for 50K, 50 miles and 100K distance and won the Montrail Cup trail running series in 2004 and 2011. He's a two-time U.S. ultrarunner of the year with a long list of trail running and adventure racing victories, plus a handful of records and fastest known times to his credit. In 2007, he became the first trail runner to run under 7 hours for the famous rim-to-rim-to-rim trail run across the Grand Canyon and back when he ran the 42-mile route in 6:59:56 in 2011.
Although he's has been able to ride a bike for more than a year, he hasn't been able to run, let alone walk without a significant limp. He said on Monday that he's most interested in regaining his health and being pain-free, and believes once he has a prosthetic, he'll be able to resume life as it was before his accident. If all goes as planned, he will be able to run, ski and walk his kids to school without pain.
"I'm happy, or maybe relieved, to know there will be some finality to it," Mackey told Competitor.com on Tuesday. "I've talked to a lot of people and I think this is the best next step for me."