SCORECARD, Jan. 8, 2007
IN DECEMBER doctors told Danelle Ballengee that she'd spend three to six months in a wheelchair and wouldn't walk normally for twice that time. The prognosis sounded reasonable: After slipping on ice while on an eight-mile trail run, the world champion adventure racer had tumbled down a 60-foot cliff, shattered her pelvis and barely survived heavy internal bleeding. Ballengee was stranded outdoors near Moab, Utah, for two days until her dog, Taz, led a rescue team to her.
Yet on May 12, 150 days after her accident, Ballengee finished a 60 mile Adventure Xstream Race Series event in Colorado that included mountain biking, running, orienteering, kayaking and a rope course. (She was in a wheelchair with two pins and a plate in her pelvis for three months but trained by doing pool aerobics and sit-down skiing.) The lone solo female competitor, she finished in 13 hours, 28 minutes, which was the fifth-best time among the 14 racers.
Ballengee wasn't the only one to pick up some hardware recently. Her training sidekick and near-constant companion, Taz—a 3-year-old who's part Australian shepherd, a little golden retriever and maybe some lab—received the SPCA's National Hero Dog Award in Los Angeles earlier this month. "He had no idea," Ballengee says. "He's a good dog, and he knows he's a good dog, but he's also a dog. He assumed he'd be running through a creek or chasing a ball, not attending a press conference."