Twelve Years After a Life-Changing Accident, Flying Pig Champion Alison Delgado Is Better Than Ever

Delgado details her journey from near death to recovery in her new book, “My Race for Life.”

The first time she ran the Flying Pig marathon, Alison Delgado won the race. It was 2005 and she was just 22 years old, but over the next five years, she’d run two more marathons, begin a pediatric residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and get married. The biggest test of her life, though, came in October 2010 when she was hit by a car while riding her bike.

Alison Delgado running the 2012 Flying Pig Marathon.

Photograph courtesy Alison Delgado

“I was near death when paramedics found me,” says Delgado, whose husband Tim, also then a resident, was initially dispatched by helicopter to help treat her. All told, she spent five days comatose and endured two hospitalizations, one major brain surgery and two stints at the Drake Center for rehab (a ruptured aneurism had also left her with “the vocabulary of a toddler,” says Delgado). Still, she fought her way back as national media outlets like CNN, Runner’s World and ESPN tracked her progress.

Six months post-accident, she returned to work and in 2012, she completed the full Pig again, running her personal best time (she also ran it again in 2018). This week, she’ll be at Joseph Beth Rookwood and the Flying Pig Expo at Duke Energy Center promoting her new book, My Race for Life, about the harrowing journey from near death to miraculous recovery. Delgado won’t be running in this year’s Pig, but we caught up with her to chat about her perspective on the accident today, an update on her life and advice for 2021 Pig marathoners:

Alison Delgado crosses the finish line at the 2012 Flying Pig Marathon.

Photograph courtesy Alison Delgado

How she’s changed since 2010:

I had a change in perception of myself after the accident. [Before], I had to be the best runner, the best student, and I had bad races a lot of times because when things weren’t going perfectly, I failed. After that accident, I’m going out there just because I can and I enjoy it. I don’t have this ultimate goal in mind that I’m gonna be a failure if it doesn’t happen.

What she’s been up to since then:

After the accident, my biggest concern was being able to pass my pediatric board exam [but] I passed on my first attempt, so it was a big success. We moved [to Utah] in the summer of 2013 and I work at a private practice in Park City doing primary care; I love it. We had a son in 2016, and we do a lot of camping out here, skiing. I’ve run 10 marathons since the accident – I ran the tenth last year, just before the tenth anniversary of the accident.

Why she wrote a book about this 11 years later:

Every time I tell my story, people look at me like: I can’t imagine you even went through that! You look perfectly fine now, which I am. [They’re] like: Where’s the book? Where’s the movie? I kind of was hesitant to do it for so long because, after I left the hospital, I was lucky if I could write two sentences. [But] I actually started writing this on my flight to Cincinnati for the 2018 [Flying Pig] marathon.

Advice for runners in this year’s Flying Pig:

Just go out there and have fun! Just take it all in and enjoy crossing that finish line. It’s such a huge accomplishment.

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