Lost Trail Runner in Australia Is Fortunate to Be Alive

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When the temperatures heat up in the summertime, runners who often do much of their training on the roads head to the trails for relief from the blazing sun.

In addition to enjoying cooler temperatures from the shade, trail running offers many benefits such as a softer surface, which can help reduce the impact forces when landing and the potential injury risk, while also working more of the small, stabilizing muscles in your ankles and hips due to the uneven terrain.

However, trail running safety is paramount, and a recent trail running news piece aptly demonstrates how crucial it is to be prepared when you do a trail running workout.

The weather conditions were the complete opposite in this scenario—battling frigid winter weather rather than swapping road miles for trail runs in the summer to avoid the heat—because the trail runner who fortunately ended up surviving the trail run went awry lives in Australia, where it is currently winter.

Reportedly, the 31-year-old woman trail runner from Melbourne, Australia got lost while running in a ski town in Australia’s Victorian Alps near Mount Hotham on Sunday, August 13, 2023.

She was visiting with her family, who were staying about 13 kilometers away from her trail running route.

Although she had told her family members that she planned to run for an hour, after three hours, she had still not returned from her run.

a marathon runner running on beautiful snow covered track in mountain

Her family called the police, and the department dispatched a search party with ski patrollers and local volunteers to try and track her down in the Victorian Alps.

While any trail run can become dangerous if you get lost, the runner was on a remote trail in an area where the temperatures can plummet dangerously low at night. 

Fortunately, a man riding his mountain bike found the trail runner just before sunset, several hours after the search began and a whopping 25 kilometers from where she began her trail run.

Not only did the lost trail runner not have a map, but the cold temperatures drained her phone battery and it had died, making it all the more of a miracle that the cyclist found her when he did.

Senior Sergeant Doug Incoll told ABC that the woman was lucky to survive, noting:

“She had no waterproof clothing, and no idea where she was whatsoever and no communication devices. She was very, very lucky.”

Senior Sergeant Incoll also provided some other key safety tips for trail runners:

“Make sure you’ve got some form of communication with a fully charged battery and be dressed appropriately.”

If you do get lost, stay put and seek shelter. “That limits the area that the rescuers have to find you,” noted Senior Sergeant Incoll.

Other important safety tips for trail running are to take a map and compass if you are in an unfamiliar area, and handwrite your planned trail route in case your phone stops working.

Make sure you have enough layers and fuel, and try to stay on well-traveled trails in case something happens.

Learn more about staying safe while trail running here.

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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