This article about a teen runner with multiple sclerosis is amazing:
For Runner With M.S., No Pain While Racing, No Feeling at the Finish
by Lindsay Crouse
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — When a pack of whip-thin girls zipped across the finish of the 1,600-meter race at a recent track meet here, the smallest runner’s legs wobbled like rubber, and she flopped into her waiting coach’s arms. She collapses every time she races.
Kayla Montgomery, 18, was found to have multiple sclerosis three years ago. Defying most logic, she has gone on to become one of the fastest young distance runners in the country — one who cannot stay on her feet after crossing the finish line.
Because M.S. blocks nerve signals from Montgomery’s legs to her brain, particularly as her body temperature increases, she can move at steady speeds that cause other runners pain she cannot sense, creating the peculiar circumstance in which the symptoms of a disease might confer an athletic advantage.
But intense exercise can also trigger weakness and instability; as Montgomery goes numb in races, she can continue moving forward as if on autopilot, but any disruption, like stopping, makes her lose control.
“When I finish, it feels like there’s nothing underneath me,” Montgomery said. “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.”
At the finish of every race, she staggers and crumples. Before momentum sends her flying to the ground, her coach braces to catch her, carrying her aside as her competitors finish and her parents swoop in to ice her legs. Minutes later, sensation returns and she rises, ready for another chance at forestalling a disease that one day may force her to trade the track for a wheelchair. M.S. has no cure.
What?!? I'm afraid to ask, but they answer anyway:
The numbness is particularly dire for midrace falls. At her state cross-country meet last year, she clipped the heel of a fellow runner in the lead pack and crashed. Facedown with her legs splayed, she could not get up. Runners sprinted by, and she slipped from all-state contention. Seeing a rival pass was enough to get her to use a nearby fence to pull herself up and cruise into 10th place.
It was a lesson in resilience. “Now I know I can do it,” she said. “It may take a little while, but if I fall, I know I can get up.”
And she is the real deal:
Last month, Montgomery, a senior at Mount Tabor High School, won the North Carolina state title in the 3,200 meters. Her time of 10 minutes 43 seconds ranks her 21st in the country. Her next major competition is the 5,000 meters at the national indoor track championships in New York on March 14, when she hopes to break 17 minutes.
Lots more here.