01/06/2015 11:28 EST | Updated 03/09/2015 05:59 EDT

Vancouver Island Runner Allison Tai Airlifted After Relying On Google Maps

A Vancouver Island runner was airlifted to safety after she got lost in Horne Lake Caves provincial park. 

Allison Tai, a fitness coach who had finished second in the World's Toughest Mudder race, planned to run from Port Alberni, B.C. to Qualicum Beach through the provincial park.

She mapped her running route on Google and it seemed easy to follow. But as she got deeper into the run, she found there were dozens of unmarked roads and intersection and she got lost in the dark. Even worse, her fully charged phone died in the cold, snowy weather,

"It went 80 per cent, red line, beep beep done. Just a black phone," Tai said. "And I'm standing in the middle of absolute wilderness with my phone off."

When she didn't return, her husband called the RCMP and the police, aware of how dangerous the terrain can be, started a search.

Teams with ATV's were soon combing the backcountry, but she was across a gully and out of reach.

Tai kept running up a mountain, hoping she would get cell service near the top, and the gamble paid off. A helicopter was able to airlift her off the mountain. 

"They have you put your arms down over this kind of flotation device and then they shoot you up in the air as the helicopter takes off and it is absolutely frightening," she said.

"And the guy who is picking me up is asking, 'can I grab your cell phone for a selfie? And isn't this fun? Whoo!' and I'm like 'no, but I kind of love you!'"

Tai is grateful for the rescue. Her advice is never trust your safety to Internet maps and to be prepared to turn back if the area seems unfamiliar and not what you expected.

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