Triathlete Can’t Feel His Legs

"Walking quadriplegic" enters Ironman


Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

In 2009, an SUV hit triathlete John Carson from behind while he was out on a training ride. When Carson awoke in intensive care, doctors told him that he had badly damaged his cervical spine and was a quadripeligic. “When I was a younger guy, to me the thought of being paralyzed, I was the first person to say I’d rather be dead,” Carson says. But within a week, much to the surprise of his doctors, Carson began moving his hands. Eventually, after continued rehabilitation, he began to walk. Carson, now 30, is what his spinal surgeon calls a “walking quadriplegic”: He has no sensation in his extremities, and has to think carefully with each step. “Looking at my spinal cord and looking at the images, nothing I’m doing now should be possible,” Mr. Carson told the New York Times. “They can’t say for certain why I recovered versus a person with the exact same injury who is still in a wheelchair.” Carson returned to competition in 2010, finishing the Lake Placid Ironman in 14 hours, 56 minutes. (His previous best was 10 hours, 32 minutes.) This weekend, he’ll be using his regained ability to raise money for spinal cord research. His goal is $10,000. You can follow Carson’s progress Sunday at His racer number is 1294.

Read more at The New York Times