Unstoppable

Triathlete resurrects career as cyclocross rider after being hit by car

Sjaan Gerth
Dr. Sjaan Gerth is rising up the ranks in cyclocross racing after a near fatal hit-and-run.

Sjaan Gerth’s promising career as a professional triathlete ended as quickly as it began when he was the victim of a hit-and-run drunk driver who left him with a damaged spine and legs. But Gerth’s athletic spirit is as strong as ever and he’s succeeding in a new sport.

The 35-year-old family doctor in Ottawa has become one of the top-ranked cyclocross competitors in Ontario and has his sights set on the national level. In 2016, despite participating in only a few competitions, he placed fourth overall in the province in the elite men’s class, finishing ahead of riders with considerably more experience.

“Success came fairly quickly, faster than I had anticipated, so I’m hoping this is just the beginning,” he says. “Being a national-class rider I don’t think is that far off. That’ll happen in 2017 and then I can get into races in the United States where they have a bigger market and a more competitive field. From there, who knows?”

Gerth’s athleticism earned him a track scholarship at Ohio State University from 2000-2004 and, after focusing on his medical career, marrying and starting a family, he returned to competitive running in 2014 and transitioned to triathlon. In April 2015, in only his fourth competition, he placed first in his age group and fourth overall in a 70.3 mile Ironman race in New Orleans. His time earned him his pro card from Triathlon Canada.

But tragedy struck less than two weeks later. While on a training ride in Uxbridge, he was struck from behind by a drunk driver operating a stolen truck. Gerth required multiple surgeries to insert rods, plates and screws in his back and legs, and it took almost nine months before he could fully walk again. High-impact distance running was out of the question.

The switch to cyclocross, which combines elements of cycling and short bursts ofcross-country running over and around obstacles, has provided him with a new athletic outlet.

“What I’ve learned about myself is just the tremendous inner strength and determination that I think we all have as human beings, but with moments like these, it kind of gets brought to the forefront,” he says. “You see it on a day-to-day basis. I was not convinced at all that I would get back into anything athletic or that I would have the drive or have any interest in it. It was less than a year from the accident when I knew I needed something athletic again back in my life.”

Support Local Media

Since 1991, IMPACT Magazine has produced freely distributed award-winning editorial content, including departments on fitness, health, nutrition, food, training, sports medicine, travel and features on the top athletes across the country.

Why Your Support Matters

IMPACT Magazine has kept its publication free and available to readers for 30 years. We believe that everyone deserves access to quality, credible health and fitness content to live their healthiest and best lives. We pride ourselves on delivering the best editorial from the best experts in their fields along with supporting both local and national brands that align with our core values.

We are independently owned and operated and support local fitness and health professionals, writers, photographers, designers and artists.

Please consider supporting IMPACT Magazine by making a donation of any amount via PayPal below. Your donations will help us continue to make an IMPACT into the future!

Impact Magazine DonationsDonate to Impact Magazine