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Runner talks never giving up after breaking both ankles. This year, he's back at the Peachtree Road Race

He broke his two ankles in a parachute accident in 2018. After a year and a half of recovery, he ran the Peachtree Road Race in under one hour. This year he's back

ATLANTA — Anderson Harp has run the AJC Peachtree Road Race at least six times, but his 2021 run had a special meaning. He was able to run even after injuring both ankles. This year, the runner-turned-author is back for more.

He sat down with reporter Paola Suro for a one-on-one interview. He told her about his 2018 injury that led to a year and half of recovery.

“It was Aug. 4, 2018... I would not forget that date," Harp said. "While in Moab we did a parachute jump. I did a tandem jump, and the instructor was on my back and he came over my back and broke both of my ankles.” 

Harp hoped they were sprained, and drove himself four hours to the nearest hospital.

"I went towards Salt Lake City and pulled into a small town and the hospital was closed," he said. "I got back into the interstate and I was hoping for a state trooper somewhere but I never saw anybody until I got to the hospital."

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The news he got at the hospital was not what he wished for. However, Harp still managed to get back on his feet.

Credit: Anderson Harp
Anderson Harp after breaking both ankles, still smiling

After a year and a half of recovery, including two months in a wheelchair, Harp was finally able to run the Peachtree Road Race in 2021. The 71-year-old ran the race in just under one hour, and this year he is back for more.

The military corps Veteran was also the lead runner for American University, leading his team to a top 20 finish in the 1971 NCAA division one cross country championship.

Harp is still the school record holder in the indoor 800 meters.

"[I said] I’m not going to quit. I’m not going to let it stop me. Running for me is in my DNA, like many runners," he said. "It’s both a thrill and endorphins and the whole 10 yards. You just feel so much better when you’re able to get in shape with running."

Writing is also in his DNA. Harp has written six novels and was invited to do two USO tours.

"I started to write these thrillers and I’ve gotten some really good reviews. [The USO tours were] a real adventure... it was a lot of fun. We took five authors to the Persian Gulf. We went to several spots in combat zones and were able to meet the troops, sign autographs, introduce the writers to the real military world. Many of these writers don’t have a lot of military experience to write some of these thrillers," he added.

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When asked if he draws on any of his personal experiences in his novels, Harp stated, "I think so." He pointed to one character in particular, a marathon runner like himself.

"He ran marathons and it saved his life a couple of times because of his endurance and ability to endure pain and keep on going,” Harp explained.

He started running in 10th grade at his New Jersey high school. Harp ran his first Peachtree Road Race in 1977 and runs around six different races a year.

So next time you hit a roadblock or think about giving up, try remembering his story.

Harp recommends: "just take it one step at a time, get back out there, start walking. Then start walking and jogging and work your way up."

To purchase his books, click here.

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