FOUR years ago, doctors thought they might have to amputate Janet Gatland’s leg after she suffered severe injuries when a skydive went wrong.
But after making a full recovery, not only will she run next month’s Great North Run, the mother-of-two now has her sights set on completing the 26-mile London Marathon.
The 44-year-old, from Bearpark, County Durham, was skydiving more than 12,000ft over Brunton, Northumberland, in April 2003, for only the second time, when her landing went wrong.
Her husband Glenn, 58, described hearing the sound of a pistol shot after the landing and seeing bones sticking out the side of his wife’s left leg.
Mrs Gatland was airlifted to hospital by Northumbria Air Ambulance and underwent emergency surgery to save her leg after suffering a quadruple spiral fracture of the tibia and a fracture of the fibula.
Because she had landed in a muddy field, which had earlier been home to cattle, doctors thought there was a risk of infection and warned her family they may have to amputate it.
“It was dreadful, I didn’t know until a few weeks after there was a chance they could have amputated,” she said.
“When they took me into theatre I was heavily sedated so I didn’t know what was going on.
“I couldn’t weight-bear for five months and I had what looked like a Meccano set on my leg.
“I had always wondered what it would be like to skydive and after seeing all these people do it, I thought why not, I might as well have a go. But I think I’ll stick with running now.”
After an intense course of physiotherapy, she is now back on both feet and preparing to run the 13.1-mile half-marathon from Newcastle to South Shields on Sunday, September, 30.
Mrs Gatland will team up with friend and step daughter-in-law Jayne Gatland, 36, for the challenge after previously completing the Great Women’s Run earlier this year.
Her story inspired bosses at Nova International so much that they guaranteed her a place in the 27th Bupa Great North Run. She will also raise money for a charity dedicated to helping people with Downs syndrome after being inspired by a childhood friend who had the condition.
“I have never run before but I’m really looking forward to this now,” she added.
“We did a 10-mile run last weekend and I felt like I could have run the 13 miles, but I’m just learning to pace myself.
“To me it’s not about doing it in a time, I just want to run the course.”
Indomitable spirits: Page 23