Track is not often seen as a team sport for those who don’t participate in it and know how it works. Sure, you might have relay races and depend on your teammates for their times, but at the end of the day, it’s pretty much your own two legs that get you across the finish line and into the record books.
Unfortunately for Madeline Adams, even her own teammates were nowhere to be found when her legs gave out during a race.
When the Boston College runner was a mere 20 yards from the finish line during the 2016 ACC Women’s Cross Country Championship, she started to realize something was wrong. She told CBS News:
“I was running the race of my life. I was doing incredibly well. I was coming up that hill (to the finish line), I started to feel really fatigued.
All of a sudden, I get this wave that comes over me and my legs just truly gave out from underneath me. I had no control. I really don’t remember falling, I remember being on the ground and being like, ‘why am I on the ground? Get up.'”
She had no warning of what was about to come one, saying that before the race she felt great and “ready to rumble.” She said, “I felt like this was my time to shine.” And indeed, it was, at least briefly. Her time up until the final moments had been stellar.
But when she fell, that’s when the real sportsmanship became apparent. Footage of the incident was captured on the ACC Network’s broadcast of the race and can now be found on Facebook where it has been viewed over 2.3 million times since it happened in 2016. The footage has drawn all sorts of reactions, from anger to praise.
You see, Adams’ own teammates, as well as many of the other runners on the track, ran by her collapsed body as if nothing was happening.
It wasn’t until a rival from Clemson, named Evie Tate, stopped to try to pick Adams up that it was even clear anyone noticed her.
Tate wasn’t able to carry Adams’ by herself though and that’s when Rachel Pease, a second selfless runner, this time from Louisville also stopped her own race to help.
Pease and Tate each put one of Adams’ arms over their shoulders and attempted to get her to the finish line.
The young women could only drag Adams so far since it was clear she could not stand or put any weight on her legs at all, but after a few falters they managed to get her to get her there where help was waiting.
Unfortunately, runners must make it across on their own, so Adams was technically disqualified from the race.
While many asked why no one helped the young woman on the field, some commenters stepped in to offer explanations.
Of course, it could have been much more serious, but runners often stumble during races and it used to be the rule that any other athlete who assists or interferes with another’s performance would be immediately disqualified.
But other commenters pointed out that the rule had recently been changed.
Of course, plenty of people said they would rather be disqualified, knowing they had done the right thing.
Adams’ high school running coach even chimed in to thank the other young women who helped her.
Other teams also reached out on social media to highlight the sportsmanship of Tate and Pease.
After the race, Adams told CBS:
“The great part that comes out of this is there are two amazing girls that helped me, who are completely selfless and just amazing people with amazing character.”
And not to worry, while Adams’ medical issues are her own business, she was able to recover quickly enough to give an interview after the race.
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