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Dr. Carraher shattered his kneecap during a 50k run and had to be airlifted out of the woods, above.

Marathoner shatters knee; he’s back to running after surgery

Dr. John Carraher was 15 miles into a 50 kilometer race on Mount Cheaha — a remote area in Alabama’s Talladega National Forest — when he slipped and shattered his kneecap.

Despite completing almost 50 marathons, including some ultra marathons and the 115 mile “Trans- Rockies Run,” Dr. Carraher couldn’t walk, and he was too deep into the woods to be carried out.

A rescue helicopter plucked him out of a clearing in a basket and dropped him off by the side of a nearby road where an ambulance took him to a hospital in Anniston, Ala.

About five hours had passed from the time he injured his knee to the time he arrived at the hospital.

Dr. Carraher, who is a board-certified urologist at Jackson Urological Associates, chose to return to Jackson for treatment. He went straight from the Alabama hospital to the house of West Tennessee Bone & Joint’s Dr. David Johnson, who saw him briefly and scheduled surgery the next day.

“He screwed and wired my kneecap back together,” Dr. Carraher said. “It was pretty smooth — there were no problems.”

And then Dr. Carraher began physical therapy: three days a week for four months, then two days a week for another two months. It was painful and required a lot of hard work, but it was a good experience, he said.

“They just did a great job of answering questions and telling me what was going to happen.”

Despite his medical training, Dr. Carraher said his injury was not a common one and therefore difficult to gauge his progress and compare himself to other athletes. “What happened to me is a freak accident that not many people have.”

He worked hard in physical therapy to get better, and he has come a long way.

“You really have to stay focused and have goals to get through any type of injury.”

The accident occurred in February 2013. He began running again in July. In November, he ran the Fall Back Half Marathon in Jackson. He ran the 2014 Boston Marathon in April.

  Dr. Carraher, left, recovers after shattering his kneecap. He ran the Boston Marathon in 2014.