Chris Estes Jumps Over Guardrail to Help Save Fellow Runner During Last Mile of Strolling Jim 40 Miler

The Strolling Jim 40 Mile run was memorable, to say the least. The thunderstorms early on, which has happened in the past, preceded extreme heat, sun, and pretty high humidity. We all heard that this heat and humidity would happen and prepared for it somewhat, but when you wake up in the morning race day and it’s foggy and getting ready to rain, it’s hard to imagine how hot it will really get in the later hours of the race.

LIke most others, even on the flatter sections of the latter part of the race, it was difficult to run and taking walk breaks or shuffling was imperative. No matter how much I wanted to push myself into a 8:30 pace, 10-11 minute pace was all that I could muster up. At the time, I thought that I was the only one who felt this drained by the heat-especially when I saw Chris Estes.

Even though Chris was taking walk breaks, he was still feeling strong and said the heat wasn’t bothering him that much. Over by the “manure” section, where huge stretch of land was being plowed with manure, I was having a difficult time running and smelling that stench. Chris made a point to ask me a few times if I was okay. I replied, “No but yes I’m fine”. If you are an ultra runner, you know what that means.

The final stretch of the 41.2 mile race is on a highway with fairly large shoulders to run on. The road is marked “Only 2 miles left” and “Only 1 mile left”. Around the time that I saw that I only had one mile left to go, I saw something that could have been a hullucination. I saw Chris jump over the metal highway railing down a significantly steep grassy slope. I was still about 1/4 mile away so I wasn’t sure exactly what I saw.

Honestly, I was thinking that maybe Chris suddenly wasn’t feeling well and needed to use the bathroom. What else was I supposed to think?

Shortly after, I saw cars stopping and people moving around quickly. What was going on? The closer I got,  it suddenly occured to me that Chris was needing help.

I stopped and saw Chris about 10 feet down the slope and asked him if he was okay. I got a little closer just as he was telling me that a runner was down and unconscious and I saw another man on the other side of the unconscious runner and they both looked worried. I also saw a local family of three dealing with the situation by calling 911 and responding to the situation.

The only thing that I did to help was close the door of the pick-up truck, in fear that the door would be hit by an oncoming car. I knew that the situation was being dealt with but it was hard to leave. It was hard to see my friend down there dealing with it after running 40 miles in the heat and humidity. But, at that moment, I was honored to know him.

This was Chris’s first Strolling Jim 40 Miler. He is a Boston qualifying runner and loves ultras. He wanted that “sub7 red shirt” that so many of us want. Chris was a few minutes ahead of me before jumping over that railing to save another runner. The truth is that Chris just happened to see the runner’s hat and saw him down the slope off the highway. The runner had been sitting on the railing and fell backwards after passing out. If Chris hadn’t seen his hat, he never would have spotted the runner, or anyone else would have spotted him, for that matter. The runner could have died.

I finished the race in 6:33. Chris was at least a few minutes ahead of me so he would gotten his 6:30 shirt. Instead he finished in 7:10, as a result of saving that runner’s life. The race director, Mike Melton, did give Chris a sub7 red shirt. What Chris did on this day was far more important than receiving the “red shirt”. Even though he was exhausted and getting ready to finish a 41.2 mile race under brutal conditions, he reacted to an extremely difficult situation and to me, proved how special ultra runners are as a whole.

We are not just out there for ourselves: to beat others, to get something out of this in a selfish way. We not only love running and running far, but we also love the community of runners and will do anything for them, expecting nothing in return. On this day, Chris was the perfect example of that.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 7 posts on Run It Fast®.

Beth has run over 70 marathons and ultras including three 100 milers. She blogs about cooking and recipes for runners at Beth Eats 2 Run

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3 Responses to “Chris Estes Jumps Over Guardrail to Help Save Fellow Runner During Last Mile of Strolling Jim 40 Miler”

  1. Michele says:

    Runners make the greatest supporting buddies; thanks for such inspirational write up.

  2. Marilyn Witko Rosinski Coach R says:

    Thank you & God Bless you CHRIS ESTES !

    Thank you for saving the life of my first born son–Larry Michael Rosinski! AND Thank you for his wife Kim and his family Michael, Regan and Kendall. Thank you for his 3 siblings and 2 neices and 4 nephews!

    May you be blessed with every running step you take!

    As a writer I’m at a loss for words to express my graditude for your heroism–endangering your own life to reach Larry. As a person of faith I thank God He put you in the right spot. As a running coach I continue to be impressed with the heart and caring and support of runners like you.

    As a MOM I am eternally grateful. THANK YOU.

  3. Marilyn Witko Rosinski Coach R says:

    thank you too to whoever wrote the article. I plan on sharing it with the Toledo Road Runners Club so atribution / accolades with the authors’ name would be appreciation.

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