Firefighter Hit by Bus, Completes Ironman Triathlon 40 Surgeries Later

Firehouse.com - November 25, 2009

by Michael David Smith

Matthew Long is a New York City firefighter who was at the World Trade Center on 9/11, and that experience made him resolve to always be in peak physical condition so he'd be ready for anything. As a result, Long started competing in triathlons.

And then, in 2005, he was run over by a New York City bus.

It's important, Long says, to note that he wasn't just hit by the bus, he was run over by the bus -- pinned underneath it and impaled on the bicycle he was riding until rescue crews could remove him and rush him to the hospital, where doctors told his parents they thought he had a 1% chance of surviving.

But after months in the hospital and 40 surgeries, he did survive. And as the profile of Long that airs on HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel Tuesday night shows, he did a lot more than just survive.

Through an exhausting regimen of physical therapy and hard-core training, Long re-built his badly mangled body to the point where he ran the New York City Marathon in 2008, three years after the accident. And after he completed the marathon, he decided that he couldn't stop there, and he got himself all the way back into Ironman Triathlon shape, completing last summer's Lake Placid Ironman -- a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26-mile run -- in under the Ironman time limit of 17 hours.

Not many people can complete an Ironman, and it's hard to imagine anyone completing an Ironman after going through what Long went through. But Long is an inspiration, and the Real Sports segment is a good look at a man who refused to quit.