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Florida half-marathon runner makes wrong turn, gets lost for 12 hours

By
Ben Hooper
A Florida woman ended up lost for 12 hours when she took a wrong turn during a half-marathon. Screenshot: WTVJ-TV
A Florida woman ended up lost for 12 hours when she took a wrong turn during a half-marathon. Screenshot: WTVJ-TV

VENICE, Fla., Dec. 7 (UPI) -- A Florida woman running her first half-marathon made a wrong turn and ended up lost about seven miles off course for nearly 12 hours.

Melissa Kitcher said she was about three miles into Sunday's 13.1 mile Trail Hog Half-Marathon at the Carlton Reserve, near Venice, when she made a wrong turn and ended up lost.

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"I kept thinking to myself, 'Wow, how do people run these trails? I can't even walk them,'" Kitcher told WTVJ-TV. "When I hit the power lines I said, 'Yes I'm definitely way off course. I'm lost.'"

Kitcher said she brought her cellphone to help her stay on-course, but the device froze up two minutes before the race started and eventually ran out of battery.

Race director Thierry Rouillard said he had no idea one of the runners was still missing when the race officially ended at 12:30 p.m.

"I honestly didn't know there was anyone out there until her husband called me around 4 or 4:30 p.m.," Rouillard told the Sarasota Herald Tribune. "I felt terrible, trust me. My heart dropped."

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office joined the search and Kitcher was located uninjured about 7:30 p.m.

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"She was happy when we found her. I'm going to send her a gift package with racing stuff. A finisher's medal and award for the longest Trail Hog half-marathon in the history of the event," Rouillard said.

Kitcher said she hasn't been put off racing -- she is planning on competing in her second-ever half marathon in March.

"There's the Sarasota Half Marathon on March 19th. I already have that in my head," she said. "Everybody keeps telling me no more races, I said I'm lucky this one's on the street."

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