Mike Brannigan, a junior at Northport High School on Long Island, is going to the Nike Cross Nationals after running an incredible
15 minute, 29.9 second 5k at regionalslast weekend.
The time narrowly missed the course record, but it was enough to send Brannigan to next week’s Nationals in Portland, Oregon, where he hopes to finish top-five in the country.
Brannigan was diagnosed with autism at 18 months old. His family described him as “non-verbal, tactile defensive, impulse and extremely hyperactive” in his early childhood:
“He was always getting injured, whether running into walls or climbing over six feet chain link fences. He could run faster than any of us, so our home and lives became a kind of lock-down situation.”
In 2005 Brannigan joined the Rolling Thunder Special Needs Running Program — a nonprofit that trains mentally and physically challenged kids in running.
By age 12 he was a nationally ranked runner, and now he’s going to nationals as a junior in high school.
In a 2011 blog post, his family wrote that running had completely changed his life:
“His academics began to skyrocket during the first two years of running with Rolling Thunder and have increased dramatically ever since, much to the surprise of those within the education system who thought they had his academic progress figured out. Where at one time we thought we would be looking at group homes for Mikey, today we are now looking at colleges!”
Here’s an interview with Brannigan from Mile Split New York.
The best quote comes when he describes his strategy early in the race, “I just wanted to work hard and make them tired until they didn’t have anything for the last mile.”
The video (via r/sports):
Here's the ending of the regional 5k. He won by 11 seconds: [video provider="youtube" id="Lsh8ECSgbHg" size="xlarge" align="center"]
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