Culture

Runner Gets Disqualified For Aiding An Injured Athlete To The Finish

Even good samaritans apparently get punished when it comes to official sport rules.

Rules are rules, right? Apparently so, even when it comes to aiding other injured runners across the finish line. And the rules get ever more important (or not?) as the cross-country season draws to a close and teams are battling it out to make it to their state championships.

Teenager Zachary Hougland, a runner from Iowa, won his district meet last month, qualifying himself for the larger state championships. However, after crossing the line, he spotted a rival runner collapsed in distress and helped him finish his race. He later told reporters he “looked very dehydrated. He was holding his chest. I yelled, ‘Is anyone gonna help him?'” So he grabbed his hand and walked him 15 meters to the finish line, according to KCCI in Des Moines.

The result? He was disqualified, as a nationwide rule states that runners are not allowed to help other runners on the course during an official meet. However, his entire team still scored enough points without him to make it to the state meet together. The struggling runner was treated for dehydration and displayed gratitude toward Hougland, saying, “He pretty much risked his qualification for state to help me. He’s a pretty good guy for doing that.”

While this anti-assistance rule applies to the nationwide sport of cross country, in this case, it feels a little off and inappropriate. How would you respond?