Earlier this year, iRunFar caught up with trail running power couple, Sage Canaday and Sandi Nypaver. Canaday started running when he was 12 years old. Two decades later, he found himself flat on his back, confined to a hospital bed with a condition doctors initially thought was pneumonia.
But that wasn’t what Canaday’s illness was, and what he was suffering from would endanger his life. Pulmonary emboli, or blood clots in the lungs, increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart arrhythmia.
In the film “Starting Over,” created by Stephen Gnoza and MUT Running, you can watch Canaday go through his entire experience with pulmonary emboli first-hand, and follow his journey back to elite level trail running.
In short, get ready for an emotional release when you press play. By turns, the film delves into pensive and triumphant episodes as Canaday works his way back to the pro ranks. He hits a seven-hour fastest known time (FKT) in Hawaii; he pushes through the 2022 Canyons 100k in California.
When patients receive prompt treatment, as Canaday did, the ailment results in relatively low mortality risk. However, the lasting effects can still seriously hinder runners. Recovery requires long-term blood thinner treatment, which can change a trail runner like Canaday’s career forever.
For most of the American’s life, there was zero question about whether he would race. Suddenly, the answer seemed uncertain.
“I had to take blood thinners for three months, get genetic testing and a bunch more scans. I couldn’t adventure in the mountains due to the risk of falling and hurting myself on the blood thinners. I’m finally off them, but it took months to even start running again. I still have some scar tissue in my lungs,” he told iRunFar.
On the other hand, he racks up medical debt and his partner, Sandi Nypaver, prepares to lose him the year after her sister dies from cancer.
Canaday remains upbeat throughout the adversity he faces. There’s rarely a doubt he’ll come off the mat with poise and momentum, but watching him do it is galvanizing.
“Being out again in nature really puts it all in perspective and makes me appreciate the gift of life I’ve still been given,” he says in the film. “I’m not done yet.”
We’d never imagine otherwise.