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

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Pictured is Britany Bignham, a Cranbrook hairstylist who is one of 16 top stylists in the running for the Ultimate Stylist competition - an online international hair and beauty competition. She is pictured behind her chair at the Hair Mob. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
Cranbrook hairstylist vies for top prize in international competition

Britany Bingham is one of 16 finalists in the Ultimate Stylist competition

Kimberley RCMP detachment seeking information after female teenager grabbed by masked man.
Teenaged female grabbed by masked man on Kimberley trail

RCMP seeking witnesses or information

Brenda Ware. (RCMP)
Murder charge laid against man in Kootenay National Park homicide

Philip Toner was located in Lake Country on May 11

City staff has passed an order requiring remedial action on a building that was severely damaged by fire last fall. Trevor Crawley photo.
City council orders remedial action on vacant buildings damaged by fire

City council has issued a remedial action order relating to vacant buildings… Continue reading

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read