We’ve all heard about the infamous “wall” runners often hit during the 26.2 miles that is a marathon. It may come at mile 15 or 20, but what about mile 26.0?
Elite runner Hyvon Ngetich of Kenya made it through 26 punishing miles of Sunday's Austin Marathon, even leading the women’s pack up until mile 23. As she rounded the corner to the finish line, she fell to the ground. But instead of giving up then and there, she decided to crawl the last 0.2 miles in an incredibly inspiring human feat—and she still took third place.
While race volunteers immediately brought out a wheelchair for Ngetich, the 29-year-old refused the help, possibly knowing that she would be disqualified for accepting it.
“Running…you always have to keep going, going,” Ngetich told CBS Austin affiliate KEYE. “For the last two kilometers, I don’t remember. Finish line, I have no idea.”
Well, her crawl toward the finish is all over the news, and she can relive it herself with the stirring videos. Ngetich even pauses at one point to catch her breath, and refuses to stop until she’s absolutely certain she crossed the finish line, which she did in an impressive time of 3:04:03.68.
“I’ve seen athletes wobble and fall; I’ve seen athletes crawl across the finish line,” Austin Marathon race director Jon Conley told CBS News. "But that story of her going 26 miles, and then crawling the last 450 feet or so—never seen anything like it."
Though she missed finishing in second place by just three seconds—and was only 10 minutes behind the winner—Conley and the Austin Marathon decided to award her the same amount of prize money as the second-place winner for her display of bravery.
Still, the medical director of another marathon wants the rest of us to remember that Ngetich is a professional runner who was competing for prize money, and everyday runners should listen to their bodies instead. "For the non-elite crowd, there should never be a reason why runner a should crawl to the finish," Laura Goldberg, MD, a sports medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic and medical director of the Cleveland Marathon told ABC News.
Instead, think of Ngetich the next time you consider skipping a run, or stopping a mile (or 0.2 miles) short.
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