In this story from the Telegraph, Tim Don’s story of recovery from being hit on the bike just days before last year’s IRONMAN World Championship is detailed, including the five holes drilled into his head for his halo device.
Read about Tim Don’s life-threatening crash in Kona HERE
From the Telegraph
Tim Don: how the fastest ever Ironman shook off a broken neck to keep on running
In October 2017, Tim Don was cycling in Kailua-Kona on the island of Hawaii, one of the southernmost islands in the secluded American state. The British athlete was putting the finishing touches on months of training ahead of the biggest race of his career: the Ironman World Championship.
But Don, a three-time Olympic triathlete, didn’t get to take part in that race in Hawaii. Three days before the big day, while cycling along a designated lane, he was t-boned by a car turning into a petrol station. Thirty minutes later Don woke up on his way to hospital with a broken neck. It was a day before his daughter’s birthday; he feared he might never compete again.
But there’s definitely something setting athletes apart – particularly those of extreme sports or extreme distances. While most would take as long as possible to recover, Don had itchy feet within days. Despite the pain, and against doctors’ advice, he was back on the exercise bike within three weeks. “The screws kept coming loose”, he explains. “They had to keep screwing them back into my skull. One came loose so many times it was making a big indentation. They were worried they’d puncture the skull.” And then, the understatement of the century: “It’s pretty intense”.
Just four months on, Don is training for the Boston Marathon in April, with the ultimate goal of realising his dream in Hawai’i this year…
A terrible accident a few days before the 2017 IRONMAN World Championships took Brit Tim Don out of the race. The Halo (seen below) finally came off, but he is still a long way from being fully recovered. I chatted with him to see how he is doing and what is next.
Slowtwitch: Tim, how are you my friend?
Tim Don: Very happy and a bit stiff, but mostly happy. Halo free and loving it. Just unbelievable really. It has been a tough 3 months for us all, that’s for sure.
ST: The Halo time must have seemed like an eternity.
Tim: Yep it did seem like an eternity – 12 weeks to the day since the car hit me on the Queen K three days before the race. The nights were the toughest especially early on when I was not really sleeping longer than 60 minutes at a time. But onwards and upwards, it is off and I can move on to the next stage of my rehab and move a bit more as well.
ST: How did you sleep with that contraption?
Tim: Not so good to be honest, the first 3 weeks I slept in a chair, upright. As the brace came half way down my back and front, any pressure from leaning back on it put extra force on my screws, which were rather painful. At about 3 weeks I was off all the strong prescription pain killers and moved back upstairs back into a bed, but again upright with about 4 big pillows. The problem with all of these sleeping positions was my legs, they were just pooling with blood and swelling up big time even with compression socks and tights on, and it was neither good nor comfy. At about five weeks we decided to try a bed that can move up and down both for your head and legs and wow, I could sleep a full night! Still upright but as my legs were elevated they felt so much better. Now the Halo is off and within three days I was flat on my back and so happy. Simple things.