A ruptured Achilles tendon is an immensely painful and debilitating injury that takes months and sometimes even years to recover from. So when Idaho State hurdler Shelby Erdahl sustained one during the women's 400-meter hurdles final at the Big Sky Track and Field Championships, no one would have blamed her for collapsing out of sheer pain. She wasn't interested in doing that, though.
Somehow, Erdahl stumbled through the rest of the race, basically hopping on one leg. Even though she was in visible pain, she knew her team would earn a point if she finished, so despite having roughly 300 meters to go, she toughed it out to eventually cross the finish line. Her finish time was 2:53:56, nearly two minutes behind the winner, but the time was irrelevant. She had displayed more mental and physical strength than even seems possible.
"I never really thought about quitting, just because I'd worked so hard to get to that point," she said in an interview a few days later. "I just felt like if I didn't finish, I'd let not only myself down, but my teammates who were cheering me on, and my coaches. So I just kind of started running and went from there."
Call it adrenaline, call it drive, call it what you want. Erdahl may not have won, but no one will ever question her spirit as long as she lives.