Kayla Montgomery, an 18-year-old senior at Mount Tabor High School in North Carolina, is one of the best teenage runners in the country despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
A remarkable New York Times story details the lengths she goes to compete.
Montgomery’s legs go numb every time she races because M.S. can block nerve signals between the brain and lower body during intense exercise. She is able to keep running once she gets going, despite the lack of feeling, but once she stops she just falls down.
Her coach stands at the finish line and catches her once she collapses.
It’s a scary moment if you don’t know that this is “normal” for her (via Deadspin).
Montgomery told the NYT:
“When I finish, it feels like there’s nothing underneath me. I start out feeling normal and then my legs gradually go numb. I’ve trained myself to think about other things while I race, to get through. But when I break the motion, I can’t control them and I fall.”
She won the state title in the 3,200 meter this year, posting the 21st fastest time in the country.
Doctors have cleared her to run, but there are still obvious risks. She tripped in the middle of a race last year. At another race someone forgot to catch her and she fell on her face at the finish line.
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