Holland Reynolds, 16, is one of the best high school cross-country runners in California. During race last weekend, her University High School team was poised to win another state championship. The 3.1-mile race started harmlessly enough for Holland, but that all changed about a half-mile from the finish line.
"By the 2 1/2 mile mark I really didn't feel as great as I should have," Reynolds said. "My leg started to feel really, really heavy. I was going to try and get right up behind the girl in first place, but I felt like I couldn't run fast anymore."
Reynolds staggered, then collapsed just feet from the finish line.
A race official, immediately at her side, advised her that if she wanted to finish the race -- the finish line just mere feet in front of her -- she could crawl enough to get one foot over the line. But if she received assistance, she'd be disqualified and the points would not count toward her team's total.Reynolds kept going.
"I just kept on telling myself, 'I need to finish and I need to cross the line,'" Reynolds said. "I don't remember falling, but then I remember crawling across the line."
Reynolds' coach Jim Tracy suffers from the degenerative disease ALS and he was seated near the finish line when Reynolds went down.
"As soon as she hit the ground my heart dropped," Tracy said. "But her right arm came up in like a swimming motion and it reached out to pull her forward. And then her left arm. And I said, 'She's crawling in.' And I said, 'That's a champion.'"