Marathons always bring out gutsy performances, but the never-say-die attitude was on vivid display Sunday at the Austin Marathon in Texas.
Hyvon Ngetich was leading the women’s elite division of the race when her body gave up on her with about three miles left. She managed to get within a few hundred yards of the finish line before she was forced to go down on her hands and knees and crawl the rest of the way.
The 29-year-old from Kenya refused assistance from race workers and nurses so she would be able to claim prize money for completing the race unassisted. With the crowd cheering loudly in support of her, the incredible effort paid off in a third-place finish.
Ngetich later said she didn’t remember how she crossed the finish line.
“For the last two kilometers, I don’t remember. Finish line, I have no idea,” Ngetich told KTBC-TV in Austin. “Running, always you have to keep going, going.”
Marathon race director John Conley described Ngetich’s effort as the "bravest race” he had ever seen and said he would award her with the same amount of money she would have earned if she had finished second. Ngetich finished less than three seconds behind second-place finisher Hannah Steffan. Cynthia Jerop won the women’s race in a time of 2 hours, 54 minutes and 21.78 seconds.
“When she came around the corner on her hands and knees, I have never, in 43 years of being involved in this sport, have seen a finish like that,” Conley said.
Ngetich said she plans to return to the Austin Marathon next year.