She felt like she was running for her life, only hearing the thud of her footfalls. Her chest was burning, and so were the muscles in her legs, making it all the more difficult to keep pushing forward.
Suddenly, her legs seized while still in the air, and she fell to the ground with a thud. Silence filled the crowd as a girl emerged from behind the fallen runner. “What is she doing?” Everyone in the crowd whispered.
As a college freshman it is normal to feel undecided and overwhelmed when thinking of career choices and degree options. However, Madeline Adams had no problem knowing exactly what she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to be a runner.
She didn’t know her choices would lead to a fearful moment on the track. All attention was on her as she lay gasping before the unexpected occurred.
Madeline was encouraged by Boston University staff when they saw her athletic abilities. Her abilities were apparent when she beat her previous record by completing a 1500-meter race in less than 5 minutes.
That wasn’t enough for Madeline. She wanted to be the best runner they had ever witnessed, but she had no idea what lay ahead.
Upon hearing of the ACC Championship race, Madeline trained non-stop for weeks. It was all she could focus on. She ran the university track every morning, hoping her muscles would be ready when the time came.
She didn’t think it would be her muscles letting her down when the big day came.
Madeline felt unstoppable when being interviewed before the race. She was confident in all the training she did. She was still sure of herself when the announcer mentioned a trying incline on the track.
She was determined as she lined up with the competing university girls and waited for the signal. She felt her heart thud in her chest, her muscles wind up, and she knew she felt ready.
Bang! They were off running. Madeline’s legs were pumping fiercely, trying to get ahead, but the other girls were doing the same. Everyone participating in the ACC Championship was set on winning.
She silenced all of the unwelcome thoughts about losing and found her rhythm. She began to pull forward and outrun her competitors.
Madeline was cheered on by the fans as she broke away from the other girls. She was winning, feeling more alive than ever.
There was a strained moment as some others neared from behind her, but she managed to push more until they fell away. But that feeling was not going to stay.
As Madeline rounded a curve, she lifted her gaze and saw the finish line. To her, she had done it, and the race was finished. There was no stopping her now.
She could never expect her competitor, Evie Tate from Clemson University, to do something that would shock any audience, resulting in disqualification.
As she pushed to make her final strides to a win, she felt her body resisting the ground made a sharp incline. Her head bowed; she threw all she could into moving forward and overcoming it.
The finish line was so close, just out of reach, but the day was not going to end as expected.
Madeline’s muscles froze seemingly out of nowhere. The cheering in the stands silenced when her thighs locked, causing her to miss her footing.
She fell to the ground, hard, but was already trying to get back up before she hit the track. She had seconds before her position was overtaken, but she couldn’t get back up.
Madeline recounts how she felt a wave come over her and how her legs gave out beneath her. “I had no control,” she said.
She continued to describe how she remembered falling and being on the ground. She kept asking herself why she was on the floor and telling herself to get back up. That’s when Evie Tate came up to her.
Evie looked at her competition on the ground while the others ran past her. The spectators were alarmed when she took Madeline’s arm to lift her.
Rachel Pease from Louiseville saw what happened and decided to help, too, giving up her spot in the race. Both girls helped Madeline get on her feet, but everyone wondered what had happened.
Rachel and Evie managed to help Madeline to her feet by slinging her arms around their shoulders. They all managed to make their way to the finish line.
They wanted to do all they could to help Madeline finish the race, even if it meant losing their places. But their actions led to more unexpectedness.
Evie and Rachel felt they had to help Madeline even if it was a competition. They thought it was the right thing to do, but they were still disqualified from the race.
Historically, this had never happened in the sport, which was unbelievable. The footage caught on camera would soon go viral.
Madeline had been doing well but had underestimated the gradient of the track before her body collapsed on her.
Her body was taken over by fatigue, and her muscles gave from the exhaustion. Alarmed, she watched as the other runners passed her but still never expected the help that she got.
Madeline was also disqualified from the race because she hadn’t finished it on her own. But she was surprised and grateful for the kindness that her competitors had displayed.
“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,” she said. But would they be rewarded?
The video of the unbelievable events at the race first appeared on the ACC official page. Just a few hours after it had been uploaded, it was quickly shared hundreds of times.
Evie was astounded to see that the video had over 50,000 views, and had no signs of slowing down. But her 15 minutes of fame wasn’t over yet.
The next day, Good Morning America reached out to Evie for an interview, which gained her even more recognition. The original video had now accumulated over two million views.
People who commented on the footage praised her and Rachael for their amazing sportsmanship and said that more athletes should follow their example. Others, however, were outraged that they were disqualified.
Evie’s father was particularly furious that his daughter, and indeed Rachel, had been disqualified from the race for their good deed.
He proposed that the two be awarded an ACC sportsmanship accolade for their selfless act. And he wasn’t the only one to suggest it.
Among the people who were hailing the girls’ actions as nothing short of heroic was Madeline’s high school coach, Jack Reed. When he saw the footage, he had recognized his former pupil, Madeline, instantly.
He believed that they deserved an accolade because the two had chosen to help a competitor rather than benefit from her misfortune. But would they get it?
Soon after the incident, Evie and Rachel were named among the athletes who won the NCAA student-athlete-sportsmanship award for the year 2016/2017! And they deserved it, too. They had thrown away their own chance at winning the race to help someone they didn’t even know.
Just like Evie, Rachel was hailed a hero by her university, which recognized her role in helping Madeline finish the race that day. But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen such sportsmanship on the track.
Kenyan runner Simon Cheprot’s exemplary behavior at the 2019 Okpekpe International Road Race in Edo, Nigeria, proves that there are things more important than winning.
Simon’s act showed us that there’s nothing more important in life than helping someone who is in need. Just like Evie and Rachel, he sacrificed his win to help a competitor out.
The Okpekpe Road Race is an annual event that takes place in Nigeria. World-class athletes flock to the 10 km event from all over the world to compete against other runners.
Invitations are extended to all military and para-military members, as well as CAA Member Federations. Simon had been training for months – which is why everyone watched in surprise when he threw his win away.
Simon was no stranger to the Road Race – he’d won the 2016 run with first place, and he’d come second place in the 2017 run.
In 2018, he was a strong contender to be the first runner to win the race twice in the history of the Okpekpe Road Race. However, fate had other plans.
The race started and Simon was off like a lightning bolt. His feed pounded the track and, with his eye on the prize, he was quickly outrunning all his competitors.
With his heart racing and muscles singing, he was sure to leave the other runners in the dust and cross the line first. But then, he saw a commotion up ahead.
Simon looked around and saw a fellow Kenyan runner, Kenneth Kipkemoi, lose his footing and tumble to the ground. In a split second, Simon barely had time to react.
He didn’t even think twice before he stopped in his tracks. While the other runners sped right past him, Simon lifted his compatriot up and gently pulled him to the finish line.
Simon forfeited first place, as well as the record for being the first athlete to win two titles in the race’s seven-year history.
Instead of going for gold, he decided to stop and help his friend. In a show of extreme compassion and sportsmanship, Simon and Kenneth made it over the finish line in dead-last place. But what compelled Simon to do it?
“My dad told me one day, ‘When you’re walking and you meet a sick person on the road, help him,” Kenneth explained after the race.
“Do not leave him. So that was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw my friend on the ground.” But, unlike Evie and Rachel, Simon was rewarded for his good deed.
“This is what is called sportsmanship. Simon gave proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with his competitors,” race promoter Mike Itemuagbor said. “He is our hero, he is the hero of the seventh edition of the race.”
Although Simon had forfeited his medal, he wouldn’t leave empty-handed. local politicians stood up and took notice of Simon’s kind deed, and he was awarded $15,000 for his altruism.
“Simon may not have fulfilled his ambition of becoming the first athlete to win two Okpekpe titles since 2013 when we began this race but he came to Okpekpe this year, ran, and left as the hero,” Mike Itemuagbor said.
“He did not win any medals but he won hearts,” Mike added. The video of the event brought Simon even more fame when it went viral on social media platforms. So far, it’s amassed 43,000 views and counting.