44 on 44: Calgary racer takes leap forward on her road to recovery from Achilles rupture

44-year-old Huynh has since signed up for an Iron Man race in Arizona next September

Linh Huynh completed her 44 km birthday walk just months after rupturing her Achilles. PHOTO COURTESY LINH HUYNH

Calgarian Linh Huynh was playing badminton last March when she took a step back. That’s when she heard a pop, felt the floor become uneven and she hit the ground.

Huynh had ruptured her Achilles tendon.

“Imagine if you take your foot and point it like a dancer. Just hold that position for five weeks,” Huynh said.

“There were times in a night where I just wanted to put it into a different position, but you can’t.”

For Huynh, the injury back in early 2018 wasn’t an accident. It was like her body was giving her a warning. Still, the competitive fire burned within.

In the past, Huynh travelled the world as a marathon racer. Back in 2011 she completed a marathon in Antarctica, and in 2013 finished a marathon in the North Pole. She’s also the first Canadian women to complete The Four Deserts – a grueling series of seven-day, 250 km races through Jordan, China, Chile and Antarctica.

Calgarian Linh Hyunh completed the Antarctic Ice Marathon back in 2011. PHOTO COURTESY LINH HYUNH

When her father became ill in 2015, Huynh says she focused on him until he got better but fell out of exercise herself.

“When I turned 42, I was like ‘42 is the exact kilometres of a marathon’ and I thought walking would be just a really nice way to remind my body of what I know what it can do.”

Although Huynh didn’t have an exercise regime, she walked 42 kilometres, and on her 43rd birthday she walked 43. It was a few months later that Huynh would rupture her Achilles.

Huynh said months of recovery made her reflect on those previous marathons. Despite the serious injury, she still set a goal for herself to walk 44 kilometres on her 44th birthday on Dec. 15.

She trained by walking up to three kilometres a day to and from work. With the help of friends, Huynh built up enough strength to complete her 44 km goal.

Huynh said she’s now looking to travel to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago – an 800 km network of pathways leading to the shrine of Saint James the Great. She’s also signed up to complete an Iron Man race in Arizona next November.

“If anything, my body is telling me to prevent further injury by moving and exploring the world. Because our bodies were designed to move, they weren’t designed to sit.”

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