Lost Runner Finds Herself 7 Miles Off Trail Race Course

During the Trail Hog 13.1-mile run, one lost runner was wandering a 24,565-acre park for 12 hours before found by search crews.

lost runner
Photo by Herald-Tribune Staff

A Florida woman found herself in a scary situation this past weekend after she wandered in a 24,565-acre park for 12 hours after getting lost during the Trail Hog 13.1-mile run.

According to Sarasota’s Herald-Tribune, Melissa Kitcher made a wrong turn around mile 3 of the half marathon. By the time she was found, she was seven miles off course.

The race ended at 12:30 p.m. and everyone left, including the race organizer, unaware that Kitcher was still on course and had not finished the race. Around 4 p.m., race director Thierry Rouillard received a call from Kitcher’s husband and returned to the T. Mabry Carlton Reserve, where the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office had begun their search.

Kitcher’s cell phone froze and then later died while she was wandering, so she had no way to call for help. She told the Herald-Tribune she didn’t expect the course to have such narrow paths with vegetation covering some of the trails.

Kitcher was found 12 hours after she began the race and had laid down to rest when search teams came upon her.

She never received a medal for her first half marathon, but Rouillard has something in mind.

“He plans to include an award in the package—meant to be light-hearted—that proclaims Kitcher the “longest Trail Hog 13.1-mile participant” in the history of the three-year run.”

The race directors will revisit the course for next year and Kitcher has plans to run the Sarasota Half Marathon in March.