Inspired by injury
Adam Campbell’s incredible comeback
Adam Campbell was one of the world’s top trail runners when he suffered a 300ft fall when rock climbing in the Canadian mountains in August 2016. When his climbing partners hurried down to him, in their minds it was to retrieve a body.
A month later, while still in a hospital bed, he entered the ballot for the Hardrock 100 where the previous year he’d finished third. Although it was 10 months away he didn’t believe he would be in a state to complete it. Not only did he get through the ballot, he crossed the line in 33 hours with pins in his vertebrae and hip still holding him together. It was a phenomenal achievement.
“The fact I’m alive, I can’t attribute that to anything other than luck,” said Campbell two years on from the accident, while in London promoting the Arc’teryx-backed film
about his miraculous return to competition. “I was wearing a helmet and carrying a rope on my back, which protected my spine from more serious damage.”
The Canadian trail 50-mile record-holder also recognises the part played by his fellow climbers that day – Nick Elson and Dakota Jones. “If you’re going to have a mountain accident,” he says. “Have two of the fastest mountain runners in the world with you.”
Adam adds that, if they hadn’t planned their trip so carefully to coincide with good weather, the rescue services wouldn’t have been able to fly in a helicopter and he would have died due to blood loss.
Campbell is a former international triathlete who converted to trail running. The change came when he realised he wouldn’t make the 2008 Olympics. He said: “I loved triathlon training but it didn’t suit me very well. I saw a picture of Scott Jurek running through the forest. I don’t know why this picture attracted me, but he had a tiny crop-top shirt on with this long-flowing ponytail and a dog chasing him and I thought, ‘I want to be doing what he’s doing.’ I remember reading about him running 100 miles and thought that sounded really cool.”