From Accident Victim to Endurance Runner

By Anne McClain (Stallworth)

Training for the Laurel 50K, 2011

In 1997, my life came to a sudden halt when a terrible car accident left me in a coma for three weeks and in a hospital bed for nine weeks, with a very long road to recovery afterwards. The diagnosis at first was terrible. I was basically told I wouldn’t walk again and I would need constant care for the rest of my life. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I was a runner, super active and now I was being told I would never run again…This couldn’t be happening! It was bad enough that I had a halo holding my neck together, my jaw was wired, and I had lost sight in my left eye. My specialist was trying to save my right eye. So to make it short, I was really in bad condition, and, depression had also taken over. I didn’t want to see anyone in this condition. I couldn’t speak; I had a tracheotomy and the halo on my head. To make it worse, I had a two-year old daughter at home.

I had smashed my face on the steering wheel and my eyes were in terrible condition. The last thing I wanted was people to see me in this condition, but Queta, my sister, and my mom didn’t allow me to do this. They forced their way into my room and made me realize they were there for me. My mother assured me the doctors didn’t have a clue about my eye. She was already upset because for three weeks she had watched the infection in my eyes get worse, and begged the doctors to do something, but they claimed they were trying to keep me alive and had other trauma to deal with that was more vital to them. She encouraged me to try a wiggle my feet. These words were engraved in me. “Wiggle Your Feet!” I just couldn’t. I felt nothing.
One day my mother made her famous scream and my feet finally wiggled, she said, “Te lo dije!!! I told you will walk again!” At 6:30 a.m. every day, my mother would wake me up and make me try to move my legs, and finally try and me get out of my bed. She spent seven weeks on a couch. During the last two weeks of my recovery, the hospital got her a room at the residence hall. My sister, Queta, would visit me every day and encourage me, too.
It took me two years to get myself back to running and in 1999 I ran my first half marathon in Connellsville, PA. I still knew I had a long way to go. The first half was grueling, but I was happy to be doing it and wanted to push myself even further. In 2006, I knew I could do a full marathon. I had been running a lot of 5k, 10k and half marathons but new that marathons and ultras were my long standing goal. And in 2006 I ran my first marathon, the Shamrock Sportsfest Marathon and I knew that my life was getting back to normal, I would continue to run and in 2008 I ran my first 50K, the JC Stone 50K, which was surprising. I had come in second overall!!! First place being one of my idols Connie Gardner.
I believed in being healthy and strong prior to my accident, and having such fantastic support really helped me get back. We are so much stronger than we think, and have to keep telling each other this. It’s like running–doing speed intervals, you push yourself hard but wonder if you could have pushed yourself even harder.
Today I am happy to be able to run, bike, swim and enjoy life with my family and friends. Although I lost the sight in my left eye, I see a beautiful sixteen year old daughter smiling in my direction every day. Never doubt your abilities because you will surprise yourself! I currently am training for my first 100 Burning River and have a very full race schedule for 2012.
Note: On March 3, 2012, ran the Green Jewel 50K. This was a training run for Glacier Ridge 50 Mile ultra which will be April 14th.
Anne’s schedule includes
3-17-12 – JC Stone 50K

Green Jewel 50K


4- 1- 12 – Fools Run 50K
5-6-12 – NC 24 – will pace a friend Eric Ripper for the Massanutten Mountain Trail 100
July 28-29 – Burning River 100


Photo in the running skirt is Harrisburg Marathon 2010
Photo in shorts is  Montour half marathon 9-2011
Photo with Anne training with tire is for the Laurel 50K 2011
Photo with Anne running is pink is her competing in the Green Jewel 50K