ISU athlete finishes race with ruptured Achilles

Posted at 9:12 AM, May 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-20 13:09:45-04

During the Big Sky Track and Field Championships this last weekend Erdahl completely ruptured her left Achilles but somehow kept racing.

"My focus was just on the finish line and getting to it," said Erdahl.

For Shelby Erdahl the 400 Meter Hurdles began like any other race, she had done the hurdles hundreds of times and she felt good coming off the blocks, but after the first 100 meters, something went wrong.

"I jumped over the second hurdle and when I landed I just fell on the track,” explained Erdahl. “I didn't know what was going on and when I got back up I couldn't move my foot, it was numb, and hurting."

Erdahl had completely ruptured her left Achilles but despite the injury that would have sidelined professional athletes, she continued the race.

"I never really thought about quitting just because I had worked so hard to get to that point," says Erdahl.

Despite every painful step and agonizing hurdle she went over the senior had one goal in mind, to cross the finish line and score a point for her team.

"I didn't want my last memory of track and field to be me rolling off the track without finishing, so that way I can finish my career crossing the finish line in the finals," said Erdahl.

"It shows what her values are, I think it shows what's important to her, and to her it was important to finish," said Idaho State Track and Field Head Coach Hilary Merkley. 

Through determination, grit and the love for her sport, Erdahl crossed the finish the line and accomplished something that few could ever do. Her coach said Erdahl's finish inspired the entire stadium.

"This is more meaningful to more people than just her, and maybe me, or maybe to her teammates that know her, it was meaningful to other people,” said Merkley. “There's those other girls that ran that race that were like 'oh my gosh' and they are helping her. It's something that a lot of people can relate to and understand."

Erdahl accomplished her goal of scoring individually during the Big Sky Championships but along the way she did something unexpected, she inspired.

"I didn't finish for any reason other than myself and my teammates, it's not like there is going to be any glory from that," said Erdahl.

As of Friday morning, Erdahl’s video had been viewed over 13,000 times on YouTube, and it was picked up by most major national sports networks.