In 2017, Hillary Allen was ranked first in the prestigious Skyrunning World Series. She was enjoying a season of trail races in Europe while on summer break from her job as a college science professor. But during the last race of the summer, the Hamperokken Sky Race in Norway, Hillary—whose nickname is “Hillygoat” for her mountaineering prowess—fell off a steep rocky ridge. She fell 150 feet, bouncing off the mountain on the way to what she believed was her death. She was airlifted to a hospital with two broken arms, two broken vertebrae in her back, two broken ribs, a popped ligament in her right foot, multiple severe lacerations and a sprained left ankle. Ten days and two surgeries later, Hillary flew home and underwent three more surgeries in Colorado. She was told she might never run again.
A tennis player through high school, Hillary started running in graduate school, as a means of clearing her head while studying neuroscience. She linked up with a few local runners and never looked back, quickly achieving podium results in long distance trail races. In 2014, she was U.S. Skyrunning Ultra Champion and she went on to set course records at the Speedgoat 50K and The North Face Cortina Trail Path 48K.
Just 11 months after her injury, after a rehab period that tested her determination, courage, and spirit, Hilary placed second in the Broken Arrow Vertical Kilometer race in Lake Tahoe and raced a 52K race the following day. A week later, she won a mountain race in the Dolomites. She still feels pain from the injury to her right foot, and her range of motion is limited, but at the rate Hillary has rehabbed so far, anything is possible for the resolute athlete.
Hillary hopes to inspire, educate and encourage other people to find balance in their lives—something the injury has helped her find.