Ultra Marathon Runner Returns to Extreme Running after Bilateral Partial Knee Replacement
Seven marathons on seven continents in seven days, I'm, what's called an ultramarathon runner. So I run distances longer than a conventional marathon distance. I've run across the USA. For example, actually, from Chrissie Fields here in San Francisco, I remember starting there dipping my feet on the water and then running over the bridge and ending in New York months later. I was hoping to run across Antarctica later that year, but due to logistical reasons, it wasn't gonna happen. And finally, Antarctica was supposed to happen in November, 2017. And I was training for it. I was running over a hundred miles a week, quite well prepared for it, having run across three continents in the previous three years. And I was on a routine run back in Ireland in Galway. I just went out one evening for a run and I felt my knee go my left knee. It literally went from under me, you know, it went for an MRI to both knees and there was a lot of damage to both of them. But it was my left knee that was hurting me that ended the Antarctica ambition in 2017. And I had to start on a new process of trying to fix my leg.
Dr. Stone: So Richard is a great example of someone who's been told that they have knee arthritis, should stop running, should wait for their total joint replacement, and give up the exercises that they like to do in life. He sought us out because we have a different philosophy.
Yeah, I couldn't believe it. I could talk to him on the phone, the guy himself, and, and he was able to review my MRI. Unlike the previous advice I got, he actually said, "what do you want out of this?" And I said, "I wanna run across America again." And he pretty much said, "I'll get you back doing that." You know, I bone on bone on my left medial prior to my leg. So he went through the what he was gonna do. And you know, the surgery was gonna be robotic surgery and, sure enough, he did it and my leg was perfect.
So Richard had medial arthritis, meaning arthritis just on the inside of his knee, in fact, in both knees. So he started with his worst knee and did a partial knee replacement. And by doing that, he was able to come back to his full running program, except for the fact that his opposite knee was limiting him,
Didn't even involve any long decision-making for me you know, he's the closest thing to God when it comes to the knee, as far as I'm concerned. Once my right knee produced pain in the last year, you know, it was an obvious choice for me to come back here and get this fixed.
So this week we went ahead and repaired his opposite knee, which required both of our skills, a biologic knee replacement, meaning we had to repair the has damaged articular cartilage in the outside part of his knee, which we did with something called an articular cartilage paste graft, and a partial knee replacement resurfacing the inside part of the knee, where he had worn it down to bone on bone.
I mean, before, before this, you know, I was limping walking my dog, you know, nobody should be doing that in their fifties, and nobody should accept that that's their lot. And because there are solutions and you know, the proof is here. Now I'm able to run again. I'm able to organize events like this and run around while I'm down here just over a week ago, I climbed the highest volcano in the world at 22,549 feet in the end is, and none of this would've been possible without Dr. Stone. So big shout out to Dr. Stone. Thank you for getting me down here. Get me back on the road. It's so good. It's almost like I wish I was born it, the surgery, isn't the end of something. It's the beginning of something new and positive, you know, once you have the solution and I know I have the solution, you know, that's what you look towards the future.
Richard Donovan Profile
Richard Donovan is an ultra marathon runner, extreme adventurer, and Race Director/participant in the World Marathon Challenge. In this race, Richard leads a group of long-distance runners on an adventure around the world comprised of 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days. After years of wear and tear from this long-distance running lifestyle, Richard began to experience the effects of arthritis in both of his knees and was told by his doctors that he needed a total knee replacement that would end his long-distance running career. Richard was not satisfied with this prognosis and found The Stone Clinic while seeking a surgical solution that was able to safely return him to running.
Richard traveled all the way from Galway, Ireland to San Francisco where Dr. Stone performed a successful partial knee replacement surgery on Richard's left knee in June of 2019 and another partial knee replacement on his right knee in 2020.
He’s currently organizing adventure marathons across the globe: North Pole Marathon, a Himalayas marathon, a volcano marathon, and another in Antarctica.
Richard returned to hiking the Andes and running short distances in Antarctica 8 months after his last surgery(see pics below).
One year after his second of two partial knee replacements, Richard embarked on a remarkable run across the continental United States. He started his TransUSA Run at the Boston Marathon in April and finished his run 3,200 miles and 16 states later at the Santa Monica Pier in California. Running 40+ miles per day on his partial knee replacements, it was a truly phenomenal accomplishment and an absolute inspiration to injured athletes everywhere. You may read about Richard's finish in this Irish Times article.
For more on Richard's treatment, check out a full feature of his story in the article from Triathlete Magazine "Can I Still Run After Knee Replacement Surgery?"
STORY UPDATE: Here's our interview with Richard right after his 3,200-mile cross-country trek
Find out how our robotic surgery can help you run after knee replacement