A distance runner struck by lightning 60 miles into the Hardrock 100 ultramarathon, which traverses through Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, crossed the finish line in third place with only a fried headlamp and one hell of a story to tell.
“It was unbelievably loud, followed by this huge flash of light, then everything smelled like electricity,” says Adam Campbell, a 35-year-old lawyer and professional trail runner from Calgary, Canada. “Shock and terror is the best description I can give of what it feels like.”
The bolt of electricity knocked Campbell and his pacing partner, Aaron Heidt, to the ground at the 14,058-foot summit of Handies Peak. After throwing out some well-deserved profanities, Campbell got up and yelled, “Let’s get the hell out of here!”
The duo maintained a noticeably quicker pace down the exposed mountainside to the next aid station, where Campbell decided to keep the electric encounter a secret.
“We didn’t let anyone at the aid station know because we didn’t want them to stop us,” he says. “I guess if I had heard that story I would have said, ‘You’re an idiot.’”
Campbell trekked 40 more miles through the course, ranked one of the world’s toughest, to finish third place overall.
“The Hardrock race is a really, really impressive race and it’s all part of the big mountain experience,” he says. “Playing in the mountains is incredible. It’s a real privilege.”