Brave hotelier’s triathlon glory

Triathlete Vicki Gale
Triathlete Vicki Gale
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TERRIBLE injuries suffered in a car accident have not stopped a Blackpool hotelier from battling back to compete in a triathlon.

Iron woman Vicki Gale, 46, sustained a broken back and leg in the accident in Slovakia 10 years ago.

Her injuries were so severe doctors thought they would have to amputate her injured leg.

But Vicki has bounced back and just completed her first triathlon.

She produced an excellent performance and came through the 400m swim, 10.5km bike ride and a 5km run at Wrea Green’s Ribby Hall in a time of 1:30:05.

Vicki beamed: “The sense of achievement when I crossed the finish line was fantastic.

“The team spirit and encouragement from the elite athletes to the average competitor was superb.”

Vicki, who runs The Wilton Hotel, Alexandra Road, recalls the crash in vivid detail.

She said: “I was in a town called Banska Bystrica, doing some charity work.

“Early one morning we drove out and I recall falling asleep in the passenger seat. The next thing I knew we had veered off the road and were heading straight for a wall.

“The car see-sawed up in the air, stood up on its end and crashed back down. It was at this point I broke my back but didn’t know I had broken my leg.

“I only realised I’d hurt my leg when the ambulance arrived and people were holding my leg up. I just remember thinking how much my back hurt.”

Despite the intense pain the hotel director suffered, the Slovakian hospital refused to treat her back and at one point wanted to amputate her leg.

She added: “I was in hospital for about a week – the doctors originally wanted to amputate my leg, but I was dead against it.

“They ended up doing an operation and putting pins in it, and on reflection what they did was fantastic.”

Vicki spent a year in a brace for her back. “It was a very long recovery process,” Vicki added.

In the years prior to her accident, she had been a keen sports enthusiast, and it was the Royal Preston Hospital’s treatment of her father which inspired her to start again

Vicki added:

“In 2009 my dad had been having treatment at Royal Preston Hospital for a brain injury, and as a way of thanking the hospital’s neurological rehabilitation department, I decided I would compete in an open water swim at Lake Windermere (pictured).

“I raised £2000 for the hospital’.”

The following year, the competitive juices began to flow and she took part in a two mile swim event, followed by a three mile swim and then a six miler at the River Dart.

Vicki plans to compete in future events and raise money for the brain injury association that supported her dad: “I’m planning to do more triathlons for the Headway charity.”