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Reduced To Her Knees, Marathoner Finishes Race In A Crawl

After showing herself to be in the elite class of female runners at the Austin Marathon, Kenyan Hyvon Ngetich hit the wall — hard. She didn't win, despite leading for most of the day. But the way Ngetich finished the race is being celebrated, because she did it by crawling, refusing to quit.

Her fortitude paid off: Even though she crept to the finish line, Ngetich finished third, with a time of 3:04:02.68.

As the crowd realized what was happening in front of them — that the race's former leader was refusing to be put in a wheelchair that organizers brought out onto the course, and she was insisting on finishing under her own power — they cheered her on.

"Running, always, you have to keep going, going," Ngetich told local TV station KEYE after the race. She said that she doesn't recall the final 2 kilometers of the marathon or crossing the finish line.

Ngetich accomplished her feat Saturday. But her story is still making headlines today and being cited as an inspiration, as more and more people discuss the elite runner who finished a marathon on all fours.

"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 Monday. "But that story of her going 26 miles, and then crawling the last 450 feet or so — never seen anything like it."

The women's winner was Cynthia Jerop, who finished in 2:54:21.78. Ngetich finished some 10 minutes later — and just three seconds shy of second place. But after her display of will, Conley and the Austin Marathon adjusted Ngetich's prize money to equal that of the second-place finisher.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.