Top 100 - 2011

Matt Long

On December 22, 2005, Matt Long’s life changed. In the midst of the 2005 transit strike in New York City, Long hopped on his bike to ride to his firefighter job with East Harlem’s Ladder Company 43. That day, Long was struck and crushed by a 20-ton bus. His body was torn apart and his injuries were so severe that he was given a five percent chance of survival.

Long did survive. He endured five months in the hospital, 40 surgeries over two years, physical therapy, and being told that he would never walk again. Not only did he walk, but in 2008, three years after the accident, Matt Long ran and completed the New York City Marathon. Pushing himself even further, Long completed the Ironman Triathlon in 2009, which includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26-mile run.

Today, Long uses his story to inspire and bring hope to others. In October 2010, Long shared his story in a book called The Long Run. He also started the I Will Foundation, a non-profit organization that inspires and motivates those who face illness or injury to overcome their challenges and reach their goals.

Long, whose hometown is Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, was born into an Irish Catholic family. Besides his determination, Long was able to survive his injuries because of how physically fit he was. After responding to and witnessing the events of 9/11 as a firefighter, Long got himself into his ultimate shape so he could be prepared for any challenge. After building himself back up after his accident, Men’s Fitness magazine named Long one of the world’s 25 fittest athletes.