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

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

RCMP thanked the public for assistance in finding Benjamin Archie, last seen in Princeton. (RCMP)
Missing Chilliwack man found safe and sound

The 80-year-old had walked away from his home in Chilliwack

.
Princeton’s Spotlight wins two provincial awards for excellence

Publisher takes first place for investigative reporting

Princeton GSAR responds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2020 the crew was called out 34 times, and members spent 721 hours on calls, and 683 hours training. Photo Princeton GSAR Facebook
Teen missing in Manning Park found after 24 hours

Young man spends night on mountain and survives with just a few scrapes

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Most Read