Brittny Czardowsky never imagined the best cross country race she would ever run would take more than 24 minutes to finish.
Then again, the Goessel cross country runner could never imagine leaving another runner behind. Neither could her teammate, senior Kristen Hoffman.
So when the two were about to round a turn last Thursday at Maxwell Preserve in the Canton-Galva Invitational, the sight of an unconscious competitor made them to stop.
No matter that the runner, Sarah Dains, was from another school (Flinthills). No matter that the two would have likely medaled if they had kept going.
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"I think during any meet that it's more important for the people to be safe and everybody doing well than to just place," Hoffman said. "You can place at any meet. But to make sure everybody is healthy is entirely different. That's the priority."
Added Czardowsky: "I would want someone to help me if I was the one who passed out."
Dains was among the race leaders when she suffered a severe asthma attack. She collapsed about a mile into the race.
"We started off and my chest was just really tight," said Dains, who attends Chase County but runs for Flinthills. "The more I ran, the tighter it got. So I thought maybe slowing down would help and it didn't. I started getting really dizzy and got a head rush. And then the next thing I knew the EMT was yelling at me."
Hoffman, Czardowsky and Dains' teammate Angela Merwin stopped to help. Merwin knew of Dains' history with asthma, as she had suffered an attack a week earlier in practice. Czardowsky ran back to the starting line to inform race officials.
After an emergency medical team arrived, Czardowsky finished the race in 24:36. After making sure everything was all right with Dains, Merwin and Hoffman finished the race together seven minutes later.
"When I found out the girl from Goessel was a senior and this was probably going to be one of her last races I was like, 'Wow!' " Dains said. "So I found her afterward and I just gave her a huge hug because I could not believe a senior would stop to help."
Dains has since been to the doctor and has upgraded her inhaler.
Nowhere will the three girls who stopped to help receive recognition for their times. But to all three, it will go down as the best race they've run.
"It was definitely the best I've ever felt after a race because it was more honoring to help someone then to get a good time or something," Czardowsky said. "That was definitely the best race...."