On December 11, 2022, British trail runner Darren Kay of Sedbergh, U.K. went missing on a Portuguese island off the coast of northern Africa. The BBC reported that the 52-year-old went on a two-hour run with his partner and decided to tack on additional mileage alone. He hasn’t been seen since. Local authorities ceased the search on December 21.

Kay was the fourth runner in two years to go missing on the island. Jascha Hardenberg, a 28-year-old from Germany, went missing on December 29, 2020. Polish 35-year-old Michal Kozek vanished on July 7, 2021. French tourist Benoit Way, 35, disappeared on September 1, 2021. These three runners were gone “without a trace, no clothing found or spotted, all with backpacks” wrote Madeira Island News.

Tobi Hughes of the Madeira Island News posed a question: “How is this possible, even if they have all fallen and died?”

More From Runner's World
preview for HDM All Sections Playlist - Runners World US

Madeira is home to high peaks, massive cliffs, and rocky terrain. During the search for Kay, heavy wind and high tides prevented a full-on search of the island, according to the BBC.

“Accidents involving tourists exploring Madeira’s hillside walks are not uncommon, but situations in which they disappear altogether, leaving absolutely no clues as to what may have happened, are not (or perhaps, have not been, until now),” reported the Portugal Resident.

However, only two major connections between the cases are apparent so far. All four were out on their own, while Hardenberg, Kay, and Kozek went missing near the town of Calheta.

Headshot of Chris Hatler
Chris Hatler
Service & News Editor

Chris Hatler is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but before joining Runner’s World and Bicycling, he was a pro runner for Diadora, qualifying for multiple U.S. Championships in the 1500 meters. At his alma mater the University of Pennsylvania, Chris was a multiple-time Ivy League conference champion and sub-4 minute miler.