10 Jul

Harry Dyer – Survivor

Harry Dyer image

The next time tiredness strikes and you are tempted to walk in your local parkrun or an annoying blister starts to make its presence felt during a training run or race somewhere, just think about the truly remarkable Harry Dyer (pictured) and press on.

Harry Dyer recently celebrated his 25th birthday, an occasion that six months ago he thought he might not see after he was involved in a horrific plane crash in the Kenyan jungle. Harry is tough, an ultra-marathon runner and tireless fundraiser for wildlife rangers in Africa.

In June 2016 he completed his greatest running challenge to date, finishing 28th in the Jungle Ultra in Peru – a five-day, 230km race through Manu National Park, deep in the hostile Amazon Rainforest. The experience gained was to prove invaluable just seven months later.

Harry is an experienced bush pilot and was patrolling Tsavo National Park when a freak wind flipped his plane over and forced him to crash land: “I don't fly very well upside down so I put everything I had to go onto my wheels instead of my roof,” he later explained. Unfortunately the crash ripped off a wing and tore the fuel tank, which set the cockpit on fire. Harry escaped the wreckage but had suffered 45% burns. Survival instincts kicked in and he ran for five miles, shouting to scare off wildlife and swam a crocodile infested river to get help.

The accident was on 12 January and since then Harry has endured a marathon recovery. First he was airlifted 100 miles to Nairobi Hospital, then transferred to South Africa where he spent three weeks fighting various infections. Finally, he was fit enough to be flown to Indianapolis for specialist treatment at the Eskenazi Health Foundation's Fairbanks Burn Centre, thanks to his long-term friendship with a philanthropic family with contacts at the hospital.

Demonstrating remarkable recuperative powers and having lost none of his competitive instincts, Harry was running again within weeks and even won a fishing competition in Florida after hooking a 130-pound tarpon!

This astonishing story is concluded with the wonderful news that Eskenazi Health Foundation is on its way to building a specialist burns unit in Eldoret in a Kenya/USA project that will be named Harry Dyer Burn Centre.