Runner Breaks Leg, Crawls 10 Hours to Save Himself

Trail runner survives terrifying incident in Washington state
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2020 2:40 PM CST
He Broke His Leg, Crawled for 10 Hours to Save Himself
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / Pavel1964)

Joseph Oldendorf was running the Duckabush River Trail in Washington state's Olympic National Park Friday night when he slipped on ice and broke his leg—so for the next ten and a half hours, he crawled on hands and knees in below-freezing temperatures until he was finally rescued. Oldendorf was 10 miles from the trailhead, with no cell reception, when he got hurt, CNN reports. "It’s a rocky, snowy, dirty, wet trail," the 26-year-old tells KIRO. "And after a while, my knees were just raw," so he put his shoes on his knees and kept crawling until he finally got reception on his phone and was able to call 911.

Even so, he continued crawling. "I had no idea how long it was going to be and I knew that I was still probably six miles down trail," he explains, adding that he did try to lay down at first, "but I was way too cold and there was no way I could do it without moving, so I just decided to keep moving towards them." Rescuers found him around 4:30am, four hours after his 911 call and five or six miles from where he was initially injured, and he was airlifted to safety around 7am; he has since been treated and released from the hospital. "Trail running is a lightweight endeavor with little clothing and equipment available to a solo runner if something goes wrong," the Jefferson Search and Rescue team says on Facebook. "Carrying a charged cell phone and displaying incredible grit and determination to self rescue likely prevented more serious injury in this case." (More search and rescue stories.)

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