Inspiring runner refuses to stop short of state final finish line

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Of all the inspiring moments of determination you see in the remaining months of 2011, it's unlikely any can top the heroics turned in by one high school senior Monday at an unusually humid cross country race in Louisiana.

As reported by WWL-TV and the New Orleans Times-Picayune, among other sources, Covington (La.) St. Paul's School senior cross country star Christian Bergeron's body failed during the final yards of the Louisiana Class 5A boys cross country championship race on Monday. Yet, while the runner collapsed again and again over the final 25 yards of the race, his spirit never wavered, with the teenager eventually dragging himself across the finish line on his hands and knees to complete the final cross country race of his high school career, as you can see above.

As soon as Bergeron crossed the finish line, he collapsed into the arms of his older brother, Joey Bergeron, who was on hand to watch his sibling's final race.

"I was trying to move my legs, but it just wasn't working," Bergeron told WWL-TV. "I tried standing and they just buckled underneath me, so that's when I resorted to crawling. I don't remember hearing anything. When I crossed the line, I saw my brother, and he picked me up and brought me to the bench."

Determining exactly how many times Bergeron collapsed in the closing yards is a difficult task, since he appeared to resurrect himself more than once only to fall over backwards. Still, none of those setbacks stopped the runner from finishing the race, even if he did lose about 30 seconds from his projected finish time, dropping him from 13th place to 39th in the process.

Those results were hardly anyone's focus after the teenager finally made it across the line. Rather, they were concerned with his welfare, with his mother, who happens to be a nurse, rushing down to the track and transporting her son to a nearby hospital in a golf cart.

According to the Times-Picayune, the race has never staffed an EMT in past years, but the unseasonable heat and humidity -- Natchitoches, La., where the race was held, had a heat index above 80 degrees on Monday -- made for dangerous race conditions for teens more accustomed to racing in weather nearly 20 degrees cooler by this point in the season.

"There's no paramedics, no ambulance, nothing," Joey Bergeron told the Times-Picayune. "It's hot, and kids are lying around everywhere suffering."

Yet, despite all that suffering, Bergeron never wavered in his commitment to finishing the race for his team. In that, his teammates here hardly surprised, as St. Paul's sophomore Zachary Albright told the Times-Picayune:

"Christian's all heart," he said. "He would do anything for this team. He looked like he was OK right before the race, but we were all dying out there."

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