More than just pressing, Tromso Skyrace is. Race director Kilian Jornet admitted when discussing the course in 2014: “You might die.”
It’s not been an illusion.
The most challenging segment occurs at the halfway point of the 57 km route: an open, steep, narrow ridge reaching the Hamperokken peak of 1,404 meters.
American sky runner Hillary Allen dropped off the ridge during the 2017 race. She was in a 50 ft freefall. Instead, she fell another 100 ft “like a rag doll” down the cliff before coming to a stop.
This is the story of how Colorado’s 31-year-old woman came back to run the marathon that nearly killed her.
It was on August 5, 2017. Allen was looking forward with no pressure to a “fun day out.” She recalls smiling and saying hello along the course to friends and new faces. One of those was a competitor named Manu Par, a Tromso-based Spaniard.
In 2015, Allen became a qualified sky runner and spent in Europe every summer racing. In 2017, she was one of the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series ‘ top competitors, And she chose to make Tromso her last race to go home, where she is also a science teacher.
Located in Norway’s far north, where mountains are located climb dramatically off the coast, there is a special place for the Tromso race of skyrunning. The sport’s most accurate form stretches from sea to top.
The route takes users through trails, across trees, over snow and boulder fields, and up to the most famous peaks of the region-Tromsdalstinden (1,238 m) and Hamperokken (1,404 m)-for a cumulative elevation gain of 4,800 m.
At the start of the 3.5 km ridge of Hamperokken, Allen passed Manu Par. She was in her element, making steady progress, picking the right line across the rugged terrain. Then it was a disaster.
Once Allen dropped, Par was 10 meters behind. It was almost a vertical drop, and he saw her jump down the mountain, crying as rock pieces broke loose and dropped with her. This seemed to last up to 10 seconds.
“The echo was the worst thing,” Par, 31, says. “A human body that rattled against the wall. It was awful.”
Instinct has taken over. Through slipping down the rock to get to Allen, Par held his own life at risk. What he found was a mess that had crumbled. Her body was twisted, her bodies were like bones bags; there was such a big gash on her leg that Par should have put in her hand.
“I was certain she’d been gone,” he says. “I never heard of testing her strength.”
But he realized that her stomach was moving after a few seconds. She still breathed. She is kicked in Adrenaline. Par is a mountain guide educated, and the basic first aid he knows is quickly called upon.
Allen was in danger of falling, so he had to push her first, but not too much as it was apparent that she had a spinal injury. She regained consciousness, and Par instructed her not to move and urged her to remain awake.
“She was struggling to stay alive, to do what I told her,” he says. “It was amazing. Imagine being in that situation-most ordinary They are going to give up.
Some photographers of the race also saw the crash, and they called for help. After about 25 minutes, a rescue helicopter landed. The precarious position of Allen meant that it took two hours to hoist her out of the mountain safely.
But she was competing in the sky running back in a year. Soon after, she decided to go back to Norway. She had to be shut down.
Allen can not recall precisely what happened-whether she stumbled, tripped, or broke away from underfoot with a rock. Yet she remembers to slip.
“Time was slowing down,” she says. “I recall the impact of hitting the ground, but I don’t remember it’s a pain. I remember the feeling of cracking my bones, the sound of it.
“I thought: ‘ This is it, you’re going to die. ‘ I remember being calm, even though it was a terrifying moment, thinking: ‘ Do your best to stop but accept it. ‘
“I went out and when I came to see Manu and the others saving me. I thought I was going to die when I saw their faces. I had never seen the look of terror before. Then the pain struck. It came in waves.”
It was so intense that she screamed until the relief of pain came into effect, and then she was airlifted to the hospital. The next day, Par was visiting Allen.
“There were so many tubes, and from the anesthetics, she was groggy,” he says.
It was only when Allen woke up that day that she finally dawned on the extent of her injuries.
“I couldn’t move, everywhere wires were sticking out of me, stitches and injuries,” she says. “I said, ‘ Oh my God, can I do it again? ‘ Don’t mind running.”
She had fractured multiple ribs and bones in her feet, as well as fracturing both body and two vertebrae. She sustained a lisfranc fracture in her right foot, which put her ability to run again in jeopardy. This needed screws that were removed later, although she still had the plates in her arms.
After the incident, Allen’s first upload on social media came three days later-an an Instagram video from her hospital bed in which she slurs her words while describing her injuries, clearly tired from the pain relief.
She posted another video back in Colorado a week later in which she becomes tearful while describing the operations she is about to have.
“I didn’t look beautiful,” she says now. “I’m grimacing as I watch them play, but I don’t care because I’ve been there.
“It was a promise that I made in my recovery early. I have mixed emotions about social media. I feel like it’s a big lie a lot of time. You never see the real fight, the raw emotions.
“I had to be honest about what happened. It was initially about telling family and friends that I was OK, but I got fantastic support via social media from thereon.
“I kept publishing the good and bad moments, documenting how challenging the recovery process was and was going on.”
Allen returned home with only one “working kind” leg. Every little thing has become an enormous task-to sleep, eat, shower, dress. She couldn’t take a shower or go unattended to the toilet.
“I had no desire to get out of bed for a few days. I wanted the crash to kill me early on because it was safer.”
She gradually found ways to cope with it. She made a contraction with which to eat and now laughs about how many people she hardly knew she saw naked.