The Amazing Runner Who Didn’t Let A Fall Break Her

It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.

Every once and a while, the internet rediscovers a classic meme or video from the archives and everyone has a moment together. If you’re rediscovering the content, you rejoice in the fact that some things never get old. And if you’re brand new to it, you laugh/smile/cry at the appropriate moments and join the club.

This week’s (wait for it) trip down memory lane is a video of runner Heather Dorniden (now Kampf) falling during the 600-meter race at the 2008 Big Ten Indoor Track Championships. Heather was in first place until she fell flat on her face, seemingly leaving her in last place and hurting her team’s point total for the day. But if she was down and out, do you think we’d still be talking about it today? Do you think people would still be drawing inspiration from it? If Heather had given up, she would be our Queen of the Day? No. We wouldn’t be, they wouldn’t be and she wouldn’t be, although I’m sure she’s a lovely person, so maybe.

The fun starts at 1:10.

Heather was in first place of the 600-meter race, representing the University of Minnesota, when her feet got tangled with those of another runner. In tenths of a second, everything could have been over. She could have easily given up, but she got up, sprinted harder than ever and won the race. And she made it look easy. It’s the stuff Disney executives dream of.

“I heard the announcer say, ‘Watch out for Heather Dorniden.’ I thought, yeah, watch out for Heather,” she said.

With deafening cheers from her family, friends and shocked and awed onlookers, Heather finished the race on her home track. If you watch the clip, I don’t think the amazingness of what she just accomplished had sunk in yet. That, or she was freaking exhausted from sprinting her heart out.

“That last 50 meters, I hit a gear that I never knew I had,” she’s quoted saying on the University of Minnesota website.

The race became Heather’s claim-to-fame, but I can imagine it’s quite an impressive interview/icebreaker/first date story.
“So, Heather, tell me about yourself.”
“Well, I’m moderately internet-famous for tripping during a 600-meter race, falling, getting back up and still winning.”

Imagine if the race happened after 2008, when video apps and social media were bigger staples in our daily lives. She would probably be even more of an inspiration.

“When I watch [the video], my heart rate still goes up like crazy and I almost shake. You get nervous all over again for races when you watch them.”

In an age when it’s easy to rally behind negativity, it’s wonderful and refreshing when millions of people go out of their way to share a story with a positive message. If you search “Heather Dorniden” on Twitter right now, there are people who are just now discovering and sharing her story for the first time. The video may be from 2008, but the message is timeless: The real winners are the ones who pick themselves up and never give up. (First place is just a cherry on top.)

When Heather got up and kept running, little did she know she would keep on going. She’s still at it today, running for Team USA Minnesota. Is it just me, or is there something about running stories that are extra motivational? They’re brimming with inspirational fodder. Heather’s last 200 meters resonates with all of us, which is why her video is so shareable. You go, Heather!

Featured image via, Michael Scott via