Back On The Trail…

Left: Back on the trail Right: "Terminator Arm" after two rattlesnake bites photo credits: Jenn Thompson

Left: Back on the trail
Right: “Terminator Arm” after two rattlesnake bites
photo credits: Jenn Thompson

Last summer, I remember hearing the story of Jenn Thompson, the ultra runner who was bitten by a rattlesnake (twice) and was fighting for her life.

It is an unbelievable story. Jenn documented it on her blog and it is an amazing read. I highly recommend it.

This week, I also listened to a podcast with Jenn. Disclaimer: If you listen to the podcast, you will cry.

I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but the story goes something like this: Jenn was out doing a 15-mile run. With 4 miles to go, a bike approaching from the opposite direction kicked up a rattlesnake that bit Jenn twice. It took her approximately one hour to get to a medical facility with anti-venom. By this point, she was dying.

“During the precious 28 minutes of waiting for an ambulance to find its way out onto the trail to get me, I called my parents to hear their voices one last time and listed my children’s names and their schools so that someone else could go and pick them up.”

At the hospital:

“I couldn’t use my limbs. I couldn’t feel any normal sensation. My throat felt closed off. I was vomiting. Powerful, horrifying “fasciculations” or convulsions of the muscles were happening all over me. My leg, then my diaphragm… then my stomach. Then I would vomit again **Her blood pressure is falling, she’s 51/26 now** Please don’t let me die alone.”

Okay, enough spoilers – read the story here. Listen to the story here. It’s unreal.

On a related note, I’m scared of snakes. I always have been and I’m guessing that I always will be. Fortunately, there aren’t particularly dangerous snakes around here. In fact, the only snakes I usually see are water snakes, which are a decent size (usually two or three feet) but basically harmless.

With that being said, I was recently looking at races and I spotted this picture from the Eastern States 100. This race is in Central Pennsylvania, about three hours from where I live.

Eastern States 100 (Central Pennsylvania) photo credit: Mike Romano

Eastern States 100 (Central Pennsylvania)
photo credit: Mike Romano

Apparently, just a few miles from the end of the race, the runners passed a rattlesnake den. W.T.F. Well, I guess I can cross that race off my list.

Any phobias that you would like to share?

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6 Responses to Back On The Trail…

  1. pauldburton says:

    What an incredible story. She lost her job the week before I did, but at least I didn’t get bitten by a snake! Thanks for sharing.

  2. This story is terrifying! I’m so glad she survived, wow.

  3. piratebobcat says:

    That’s crazy! I often wonder what I would do if bitten on a run. I had to jump over a cottonmouth on the trail a while back. Luckily that park is literally next door to a fire department and about half a mile from a hospital!

  4. runsonsyrup says:


  5. Trails and Ultras says:

    That story is awful, and to think she ran an ultra just a couple of months later! I’m not sure I could have done that.

  6. Maria Mintz says:

    Trails in Tilden Park, CA, now have rattlesnakes who no longer rattle. Since they were often killed because of their rattle, many no longer rattle. Keep your eyes peeled for them!

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