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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

Protestors at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds show their support for farmers in India Dec. 5, 2020. Hundreds gathered at the fairgrounds before driving in a convoy to the Indian consulate in Vancouver to protest three new laws they say will negatively impact farmers in India. (Photo: Jason Sveinson)
Protest in support of Indian farmers planned for Cloverdale

Surrey Challo event described as ‘a cultural awakening & lively protest’

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Surrey RCMP issue another warning about officer-impersonation scam

Calls demanding Bitcoin come “in waves” says Cpl. Joanie Sidhu

The Anti-Racist Coalition Vancouver started a petition calling on B.C.’s education officials to make Black Shirt Day official. The inaugural event in solidarity with Black and racialized Canadians takes place on Friday, Jan. 15. (Screenshot/Change.org)
Surrey students, staff to take part in first-ever Black Shirt Day

Special day in ‘recognition of the struggle for civil rights fought by Black and racialized Canadians’

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey, Langley twin brothers who own companies together battle in court

Presiding judge described Surrey resident Kerry Hawley and Langley resident Kelly Petersen as ‘self-made successes’

16500-block of 24 Avenue. (Google image)
Council pushes forward applications for 400-plus dwellings in South Surrey

Loss of trees, pressure on schools cited by public, council members as areas of concern

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

The route of the pink parade. The Record has blackened out the name of the teen. Facebook photo.
Pink-vehicle parade to be held Sunday in support of transgender teen assaulted in Mission

Teen and family to watch parade drive single file along waterfront at 3 p.m., Jan. 17

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials says it will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

Letisha Reimer died Nov. 1, 2016 after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
No evidence that killer was in ‘psychotic state’ during Abbotsford school stabbing: Crown

Second day of closing arguments at ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing for Gabriel Klein

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

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
Doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in 60 B.C. First Nations by next week

B.C. has allocated 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations for distribution by the end of February

Most Read