He broke both ankles in a parachute accident in 2018. After a year and a half of recovery, he ran the Peachtree Road Race in less than an hour. This year he is back
ATLANTA — Anderson Harp has raced the AJC Peachtree Road Race at least six times, but his 2021 race held special significance. He was able to run even after injuring both ankles. This year, the runner-turned-author is back for more.
He sat down with journalist Paola Suro for a personal interview. He told her about his 2018 injury which led to a year and a half of recovery.
“It was August 4, 2018…I won’t forget that date,” Harp said. “While we were in Moab, we did a skydive. I did a tandem jump, and the instructor was on my back and he came on my back and broke both of my ankles.
Harp hoped they had sprained themselves and drove for four hours to the nearest hospital.
“I went towards Salt Lake City and stopped in a small town and the hospital was closed,” he said. “I went back to the highway and was hoping to find a state trooper somewhere, but never saw anyone until I got to the hospital.”
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The news he received at the hospital was not what he wanted. However, Harp still managed to get back on his feet.
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 an hour, and this year he is back for more.
The Army Corps veteran was also the main runner for American University, leading his team to a top-20 finish in the 1971 NCAA Division 1 Cross Country Championship.
Harp is still the school record holder in the indoor 800 meters.
“[I said] I will not give up. I’m not going to let it stop me. Running for me is in my DNA, like a lot of runners,” he said. “It’s both a thrill and endorphins and the whole 10m. You feel so much better when you’re able to get in shape while running.”
Writing is also in his DNA. Harp has written six novels and been invited to do two USO tours.
“I started writing these thrillers and got great reviews. [The USO tours were] a real adventure…it was a lot of fun. We took five authors to the Persian Gulf. We traveled to several places in the combat zones and were able to meet the troops, sign autographs, introduce the writers to the real military world. A lot 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 drew on any of his personal experiences in his novels, Harp said, “I think so.” He highlighted one character in particular, a marathon runner like himself.
“He ran marathons and it saved his life many times because of his stamina and his ability to take the pain and keep going,” Harp explained.
He started running in the 10th grade at his high school in New Jersey. Harp ran its first Peachtree Road Race in 1977 and runs about six different races a year.
So the next time you hit a roadblock or think about giving up, try to remember his story.
Harp recommends, “Take it one step at a time, get back there, start walking. Then start walking and jogging and progress.”
To buy his books, click here.