Montrealer Battles Back from Car Accident to Complete Chicago Marathon

More than 30-thousand runners at Chicago Marathon

More than 30-thousand runners at Chicago Marathon


“As I made the final turn onto Michigan Avenue, in the last 5k, I caught a small happy sob in my chest…”

Melodie Sullivan is a Montreal marathoner who never takes a step for granted. The lawyer and mother of three had a lot on her mind  (and on her heart) as she crossed the finish line at the 2009 Chicago Marathon. Read on, and comment about her exceptional journey, and share your inspirational stories about overcoming adversity. Guest Post


Melodie Sullivan at Chicago Marathon 2009



On Sunday I ran my 19th marathon in Chicago. Although it was not my fastest race, it was, for many reasons, a very special one. Almost one year ago, I ran a personal best in the NYC ING marathon (3:31). But this year, I’m just very happy to have finished as well as I did (3:48) considering the last 5 months that my family and I have experienced.

On May 16th, my husband, three children and I were on our way, by car, to a hiking weekend in New Hampshire when an impaired driver veered into our lane and hit us in a head on collision. Thankfully, the kids and I only suffered minor cuts and bruises but my husband’s leg was very badly injured in the crash. He’s had several operations and it will still be months before he can walk. As bad as it was, the accident could have been so much worse and the fact that we were spared more serious injuries is always on our minds.

Considering my husband’s injuries and the fact that my children were relatively unharmed, I feel guilty and selfish even mentionning that my left knee was badly bruised in the crash and that I lost 8 weeks of marathon training.

This time and more than for any other marathon, my training took a backseat to the needs of my family and my husband’s in particular. He’s had 3 operations, countless hospital, physio and doctor visits, and has often needed extra care and help at home in the last months. It’s been an exhausting and emotional few months. I have worried about the kids’ trauma and my husband’s long term recovery all while working, keeping the house running and getting dinner on to the table every night.

All things considered, I was thrilled to take my place in my corral on Sunday, on a very chilly morning, with over 30 000 like-minded people. I thoroughly enjoyed the sights of Chicago and the encouraging crowds that lined the entire course. When I saw that my time would be a little longer than I had hoped, I took it in stride an remembered that a few weeks ago, it did not even look like I would be running the marathon.

As I made the final turn onto Michigan Avenue, in the last 5k, I caught a small happy sob in my chest…I knew the finish was near, that I had overcome the dificulties of this race (including, ahem, 4 visits to the loo), and I knew that, with toughness and perseverance, my family would overcome the consequences of the car crash too.

-Melodie Sullivan


14 responses to “Montrealer Battles Back from Car Accident to Complete Chicago Marathon

  1. carolweathers

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  2. Pingback: “Life is unpredictable, but running is a constant.” « Good4sports Blog

  3. You and your family are amazing. You should be so proud of yourself, for working through such hard times and accomplishing something great!

  4. Thanks to you all for your kind comments.
    Allen: Thanks for sharing your amazing experience and best of luck for your current recovery.

  5. Ops… I am getting old. My blog is not .com

  6. Thanks, Melodie, for sharing with us. It helps all of us to hear your story!

    On May 19 2004 I was in an automobile accident and spent 3 weeks in the ICU, most of it in an induced coma. Twice the doctors called my family in because they didn’t think I would make it. I did make it though and began my running comeback three months later, running 1/8 mile the first time. During the next year I had surgery for a double hernia, 6 months of surgeries for skin cancers, and my gall bladder removed. However, the endurance from 30 years of running, including four marathons, carried me through, and I ran my first half-marathon two years after the auto accident.

    I was doing pretty good in my training until 9 months ago when I was attacked by blood clots. I finished a 23-mile week with a 7-mile run on Saturday, and on Monday I could only walk 100 feet. My recovery from the blood clots has been much slower than I expected, and after 9-months my distance is only up to 2 1/2 miles. But that’s OK; I’m still alive and kicking….

    /Allen Leigh
    Age 74

  7. This is truly an inspirational story. So often, when a traumatic event happens in someone’s life , they focus on the grief and sadness and give up on their former dreams. But this woman stayed strong for the sake of her family and achieved her goals, despite her tragic situation.

  8. Mel,

    You are an inspiration to us all! Kudos to your strength, perseverance and love of life; and champagne cocktails. On to Boston…

  9. Congrats Mel! You’re awesome!
    I didn’t turn to running but you inspired me to go back to swimming after carrying and giving birth to 2 kids in under 21 months! Best wishes for a speedy recovery to your honey.

  10. Congratulations, Melodie! And best wishes for your husband’s prompt and full recovery!

  11. I concur with the other comments. Melodie is a constant source of inspiration. Her strength, courage and great sense of humour are enviable! Great job Melodie and good luck to the whole family with the continued recovery! One of your fans!

  12. Great job, Melodie. I so admire you!
    You are such an inspiration.

  13. You have no idea how much courage this took. Melodie, you are an inspiration, and in fact, you helped me to stay focussed and hopeful when I was starting to have doubts about my own race. Bravo for Boston! Bravo for Chicago!


  14. As a mother, and a professional, and a runner myself, I take my hat off to my dear friend Melodie for running this race, and I take my hat off to her family for supporting her. By feeding our own souls we enable ourselves to feed our loved ones. And by celebrating our blessings we are able to overcome the difficulties. Your muscles may ache but this marathon was all about healing!

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