Florida Marathon Runner Gets Lost, Goes Missing for 12 Hours | NBC 6 South Florida
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Florida Marathon Runner Gets Lost, Goes Missing for 12 Hours

Melissa Kitcher ended up six to seven miles off course — with no phone

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A woman was missing for 12 hours after she got lost while running a half-marathon in Sarasota County. Ben Robick reports. (Published Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016)

    Melissa Kitcher had full intentions of completing her first half-marathon Sunday, but it's safe to say she pictured it ending a little bit differently.

    Kitcher went missing for nearly 12 hours after running off the trail during the Trail Hog Half-Marathon at the Carlton Reserve near Venice in Sarasota County, Florida.

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

    But how did she manage to get lost?

    Courtesy 4 Deserts Race Series / Gobi March / Onni Cao

    Kitcher said there was no marking to indicate or properly direct her. “The website says you're supposed to be on Jeep trails. So when I came out there was a Jeep trail and I figured that was the path I needed to be on," Kitcher explained.

    The runner ended up six to seven miles off course with no phone — it inconveniently froze up two minutes before the start of the race, she said.

    Race director Thierry Rouillard had this to say about the situation: "It's the worst nightmare for a race director. I love what I do and want everyone to be happy. That was her first half-marathon. That was her first trail run. She learned the hard way.”

    Kitcher ended running over 16 miles before the park’s department located her in the reserve about 7:30 p.m.

    She was uninjured. Thirsty, of course, but just happy she could go home.

    “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 joked.

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    Despite going a little off course, Kitcher already has sights set on redemption.

    "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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