Twenty months after having his left leg amputated, ultra-runner Dave Mackey did what others deemed impossible: He ran the Leadville 100 — a grueling trail race at 10,000+ feet above sea level — in 24 hours, 55 minutes, 15 seconds.
Not only that, but by finishing that race, he completed the entire Leadville Race Series, meaning in three months, he crossed the finish line of the series’ 10K, trail marathon, 50- and 100-mile runs, and 50- and 100-mile bike rides.
“It’s crazy to run 100 miles with a prosthetic leg,” Mackey said after finishing the Leadville 100. “There’s so much more potential for problems beyond the regular ultrarunning problems: cramping, blown quads, and sour stomach. Yet somehow, I was able to mitigate skin damage in my socket.”
Mackey, a multi-time winner of prestigious trail races and ultramarathons, saw his life change forever in 2015 when a 250-pound rock gave way during a training run outside his home in Boulder, Colo., and he fell 60 feet off a ridge. Then the giant boulder that was the catalyst for his fall landed directly on his leg.
After 13 surgeries and constant infections, the 48-year-old made the difficult decision to have his leg amputated, and live the rest of his life wearing a prosthetic.
“Do I continue with more surgeries with very high likelihood of failure and more pain?” Mackey said at the time. “Or is there a better route? By choosing amputation as another solution, I believe life can return to where it was before the accident and be almost completely pain-free. This would mean the freedom, if I choose it, to walk the kids to school without a thought and eventually ski and ride and run and compete in races again.”
A new film produced by Nine Mind and Billy Yang Films documents Mackey’s massive comeback after the life-altering injury, and it’s well worth the watch.
It’s worth arguing that there aren’t many tougher than Dave Mackey.