I decided not to listen to the radio.  The drive was about an hour from where I was staying in Moab, Utah to the trailhead in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park where I was going to run my marathon. The 6am air was in the 20s. Will make for a cold run I thought. I turned right and started on the two-lane highway leading into the park. I have only seen a handful of cars this morning and in none in the last half-hour.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

I’m motoring along around 50 miles per hour admiring the rocky terrain. Some movement catches my eye on the right. There are three deer off the shoulder but heading for the road. I’m up on them too fast to stop completely before they are on the blacktop. I slow down and swerve into the oncoming lane.

The front of my car is past the lead buck when he decides to leap forward instead standing still or backing away. He throws a perfect shoulder block into the right front of my car.

The impact sounds like a single bass note from a blown speaker at high-volume.

I pull over and look back. Dumb ass deer and his buddies are gone. I get out and inspect the damage.  


The right front of the car between the headlight and the passenger door is smashed in. I look under the car for leaks. None. I look for bent steering linkages for damage to the wheel. All seems okay. There’s no impact to the front door which opens and closes fine. No broken lights. This shot is later after pushing a few of the dents out.

I don’t remember seeing any repair shops for gas stations for over 20 miles. I’m only a few miles from the trailhead so I continue on slowly, listening for signs I’m scraping metal or plastic. I figure if I do have a problem there should be a few people at the trailhead or the campground who may be able to help.

So far, no scraping. I zig-zag act back and forth on the road checking to see if the steering is okay. Seems fine. I get up to 40, then 50 and 55. All still seems good.

I park at the trailhead and take another look under the car.  No visible damage other than sheet metal. I decide well, I’m here. I might as well run.

Out on the trail

Out on the trail

Canyonlands was one of my favorite parks.  It is truly a runner’s playground. I enjoyed every single park I went to up to that point but this was one of the first parks where I had the active thought that I need to come back here with a group of runners and explore.

This post is about luck. Many would say I was unlucky to have been hit by the deer. I say no. It was very lucky. I was happy that the deer hit me. Seems a strange thing to say since my car got all bent up. Why?

Had the deer been faster I would have hit it head on damaging the front of the car and possibly having the deer slide up and crash against the windshield. Had the deer been larger it could have damaged my steering or front wheel. Had the deer been slower it would have crashed into my passenger front door possibly impacting its ability to open and close and maybe even breaking the window. Any one of these scenarios would have put damper on my project as well as potentially caused me injury. If you are going to have a deer hit you, that was the way to do it. 

Feeling lucky

Feeling lucky

So, it was lucky. None of the car’s systems were damaged. I was able to continue my travels uninterrupted and I learned a new perspective on luck. I try to see the good aspects of what might seem to be an unlucky event. I try to feel fortunate even when bad things happen. I try to feel a sense of gratitude that it wasn’t worse.

How do you look at events that happen around you? Do you see them straight up as lucky or unlucky?

Try to take a moment the next time something negative happens. See what part of that was lucky. Luck is there. Good fortune is there. Feelings of gratitude are there. Finding those feelings, even for a moment, makes that unlucky situation seem just a little bit brighter.