Kenyan marathon runner Hyvon Ngetich, 29, was on her way to winning the Austin Marathon on Sunday when her body began to break down. With two-tenths of a mile ago, she collapsed.
Unable to walk, much less run, Ngetich was offered a wheelchair by the surrounding medical staff. But Ngetich declined and began to crawl on all fours, finishing third in the race.
Austin Marathon race director John Conley, who increased Ngetich’s prize money to that of a second-place finisher, called Ngetich “the toughest person on the planet.”
"You ran the bravest race and crawled the bravest crawl I have ever seen in my life,” he told her. “You have earned much honor.”
A longer clip of Ngetich's crawl to the finish line
In the medical tent, Ngetich was found to have dangerously low levels of blood sugar in her body, according to Conley. She later told BBC World Service Radio that she has no memory of the finish.
“I can’t remember what happened, and I didn’t see the finish line,” she said. “I don’t remember all that crawling or whatever … even the collapsing I don’t remember.”
The story might seem inspiring at first glance, but Dr. Laura Goldberg, a sports medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic and medical director of the Cleveland Marathon, told ABC that people should never attempt what Ngetich did.
"For the non-elite crowd, there should never be a reason why runner a should crawl to the finish [sic]," Goldberg told ABC. "I get nervous about hearing this story, how it translates through the general population."
But Ngetich told the media she nevertheless plans to be back in Austin next year. "Running, always you have to keep going, going," she said.