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His Everest high By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Colin Donald at the start line of the Tenzing-Hillary marathon.
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He was told by onlookers on the Eastern Freeway at the time that his bike was clipped by a car, causing him and his bike to strike the rear of a hatch and launch metres in the air. At first, doctors thought they’d amputate his left leg - which remains heavily scarred and swollen by lymphoedema. During a gruelling year of rehab, Mr Donald defied doubts that he would ever walk again.
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In the past few years, he’s got off the couch and undergone a training regime that dropped more than 40 kilos. And since catching the fitness bug, he’s been driven to extreme physical challenges. Back in the gym, Mr Donald is gearing for Trifecta Weekend - a series of three obstacle-course races totalling 42 kilometres - in Bright in October. A keen writer, he’s hoping to publish a journal of his trek.
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He’s getting inspired by reading tales of Mexico’s Tarahumara runners, regarded as among the world’s best ultra-marathoners. They run in sandals recycled from tyres, Mr Donald says. If he was to try the Everest challenge again, Mr Donald vowed to do more distance running and hillwork to shave down his finishing time. “I’d love to do it again.”
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during the event. Exhausted over the closing stages, he ran past a local boy and they ‘high-fived’. It gave him the impetus to keep going. He was struck then by the thought of how he’d overcome the odds to get there. Fourteen years ago, he had barely survived a critical motorbike crash that severed an artery, and shattered his leg and pelvis.
It’s a long way from barely surviving a motorbike crash to finishing a marathon on the giddy heights of Everest. Some years ago, Berwick gym regular Colin Donald had faced possible amputation of his leg, and a fight to ever walk again. Now he has just returned from running in perhaps the world’s toughest race - the Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon on 29 May. It was his first marathon - a nine-hour, high-altitude ordeal that was tougher than the 34-year-old tradie could imagine. Along the way he raised more than $2000 for the Australian Himalayan Foundation to help rebuild earthquake-ravaged schools in Nepal. “It’s probably my second greatest achievement, apart from learning how to walk again (after my accident),” Mr Donald said. There were runners that didn’t start the race, let alone finish. Six were evacuated ill from the Everest Base Camp starting line, one runner died during the initial 14-day hike to the camp. “It was pretty full on,” said Mr Donald - who raised his hands in triumph as he crossed the finish line. “When I finished I was broken. I was close to collapsing. “My knees felt like they were blown, my twisted ankle was three times the size and I could barely breathe.” Thin oxygen was just one of the challenges, as well as the cold, the spartan diet and the unformed tracks along icy, rocky rises and descents. Mr Donald lost eight kilograms