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Ten years on from the fire, this is what I remember

By September 13, 202127 Comments

In September 2011, I was trapped by a grassfire during an ultramarathon.

This is what I remember.

I remember the hot Kimberly sun beating down, burning my already burnt skin.

I remember accidentally sitting on a bull ant nest. Staring in confusion as the ants started swarming across my legs.

I remember trying to drink some water but spitting it out because it was boiling hot.

I remember seeing bits of my skin stuck to the rocks and spinifex.

I remember the small group of us, banded together. The guys trying to construct some shade for Kate and I, a parasol of fluoro material lit up against the sky.

I remember thinking about Michael, my Michael. I remember telling myself “Think of his warm face, think of his honey voice, think of his golden skin. Keep thinking about Michael”.

I remember the bubbling feeling of panic as the hours dragged on. Wanting to be rescued. Needing someone to tell me everything was going to be okay.

I remember the sun starting to set, the heat starting to dissipate, the breeze becoming cold.

I remember saying “I don’t know if I can stay much longer”.

And then, I remember salvation.

The tch-tch-tch-tch of a helicopter racing across the sky.

I watched as it landed and balanced precariously on one skid. The boys helped Kate up, and she limped her way to the helicopter.

And tch-tch-tch-tch, off the helicopter flew.

For a while I worried it would not come back.

But it did.

Once again, the boys got to work. They helped me to my feet and I lurched my way to the helicopter. I couldn’t hear anything over the noise of the rotors.

I don’t remember anything else from the ride. I didn’t remember Paul Cripps, the pilot. Not until I met him again, six months later.

But he was my saviour.

He had rescued me from a literal life or death situation. He had removed me from the blistering sun, the ants, the dry spinifex. He was flying me towards help, to doctors and nurses and hospital air con and a glass of cold water.

I also didn’t know how dangerous it had been for him to fly down the gorge to us. That balancing the chopper on one skid was the result of sheer gutsiness and extreme skill.

Today, 10 years on, life is a lot less dramatic and a lot more mundane ??

Michael and I have had two beautiful boys.

I spend my time interviewing other people who have done hard things on my podcast Turia Pitt is Hard Work, and helping Mums learn how to love running in my program Run with Turia.

And Michael is now – of all things – a helicopter pilot!

The result of years of study and training.

I’d like to think it was the dramatic role Paul played in evacuating me that inspired him or maybe he’s just living out every man’s wildest dream.

Whatever it is, I’m of course going to take credit ??

And, ten years later, I want to say thank you for supporting us, and for following our story.

Truly, thank you.
Turia x


PS – If you want more stories like this, join my letter gang here. I send a weekly letter – a story, an anecdote or a small snippet of my life. There are more than 50,000 legends in the gang, and we’d love you to join us! Pop your name on the list here.




  • Kathryn Waston says:

    Couldn’t love you any more! What a woman ♥️

  • Natalie says:

    You are an inspiration. I had the pleasure of meeting you in the days after your accident and will never forget your fighting spirit and that of your family even in those early days.

    • Monica says:

      Wow amazing that even in the early days which would have been amongst the most harrowing you have this memory of her unrelenting determination!

  • Beck Conlan says:

    Turia, I’m sure you hear this often. But you are truely an inspiration. And isn’t being an inspiration a strange thing; you can “provide” it, but what people do with it is completely up to them. Thank you for providing it in abundance and I hope people really do something with it. I read this blog, a significant 10 year moment, and thought to myself, no matter what, when you think you can’t, you can. Because otherwise what are we here for? Thank you for sharing your experiences so openly. We all need reminders to live big (and brave) while we can.

  • Ronel says:

    I just think that you are one super hero. And you inspire me in so many ways.

  • Sharron says:

    You are such an inspiration and Michaels love for you is truely unconditional and I say that with the utmost respect ❤️

  • Elisa says:

    I just think you are amazing and God gave you this opportunity to help others with your story
    You are incredibly brave i admire you ! Thanks for sharing

  • Stefanie Sonnleitner says:

    Wow. I never knew that you had to wait so long to be rescued. Makes it all the more remarkable. And how amazing that your husband became a helicopter pilot. I think you should absolutely take the credit. ❤️❤️

  • Tia says:

    Thank you for sharing

  • Gol says:

    unbelievable..Im speechless Turia?????????

  • Ebere Anyanwu says:

    Insightful… Stay blessed as always.

  • Lori says:

    You are my favorite hero.

  • Fee Kelly says:

    You’re an inspiration

  • Gaby Lopez says:

    Turia you really are an inspiration for me every time I feel I want to quit. I dont personally know you but I relly feel I Love you! You are an extraordinary human, you tech us everyday what resilience is about. I thank god for your existence. Love from Mexico ?

  • Pryscila says:

    It must have been so hard! You are a miracle come true! I hope you live your life to the fullest and that God continue blessing you and your family.
    You are also an inspiration to me. I have followed you for many years now and you’re funny, a great mom, dedicated to your family and your purpose. I appreciate you letting us know your story. Be safe. MANY BLESSINGS!?

  • Fabiana says:

    You tell this story with such calmness… it definitely shows your amazing inner strength! Thank you for all you give to the world.

  • Cristiane Brezolin says:

    You’re wonderful!!!

  • Ashley Viola says:

    You inspire me with every post! You are beautiful! A vessel of love and light 🙂

  • Sarada Prasad says:

    Thankyou for putting this out.

  • Hester says:

    I have read your story many times before, on IG, but love reading it again and again because it’s soo inspiring! Thank you for sharing! Sending love from South Africa, regards Hester

  • Yesenia Ochoa says:

    There’s no words to describe how much you inspire me. I never liked the word hero until I read about your story. You’re one of my favorite heroes. ❤️ Thank you for sharing and doing all kind of things to help and inspire so many people.

  • Sandy says:

    Thank you Turin , I don’t know you but I love you ! You are so beautiful and your little family is too. You inspire everyone to be better by living your life to the absolute fullest.

  • Jjay marshall says:

    Absolutely beautiful, I always love reading anything you have written . You’re a machine and a absolute legend, yours and Micheals love story is my favourite and by far the most real . So happy for you that life is how it is today for you both with your beautiful boys . Keel being you , your energy and want fit life is infectious. Xxxx

  • Jodi says:

    Thank you for sharing. How motivational and inspirational you are xx

  • Karleen says:

    Words just seem inadequate!!! I am bursting from the inside out in utter reverie of your incredible journey. You were meant for this life…… much love

  • Seth Wingard says:

    Your story never fails to inspire people!! You’re so so strong and I am lost for words for how far you have come!! I still remember watching the 60 minutes episode with my Mum and remember her saying “that’s one strong soul”. Keep up the amazing hard work you do to help people!! Sending positive vibes!!
    -Seth Wingard x

  • Erika cavaliere says:

    you teach us so much! God bless you and your beautiful family! kisses in your heart