An Unforgettable Marathon Finish – Gabriela Andersen-Schiess | Olympic Rewind


“My big worry was that the heat and
humidity…” “You just try to to put it aside and just
concentrate on your race…” “My head and everything was still functioning, I knew what I had to go
and, through dehydration, your body cramps up” “I kinda told myself: Try to keep running, try to stay upright. My muscles just didn’t respond.” “I knew if I would stop, or sit down that would be the end of it.” “I just was determined to make it through that finish line.” It was quite special because they had a little ceremony beforehand They had all the flags, and they said, they announced it’s the first
women’s marathon. And so, I think that – besides running in the Olympics – also being part of the first marathon was special. And you wanted to show that it was the right decision for the Olympic Committee to let women run the distance, because there is no scientific evidence that they can’t run it And so many women ran marathons in just road
races around the country just not in the Olympics and as the development shows in the United States a lot of the marathons or the shorter races on the roads, the
percentage of women now this sometimes bigger than the
percentage of men, so it just shows you. It was a good thing that they decided to
do that because definitely, I think that helped women get
involved into long distance running. The race for the women it was the
first event of the track and field I remember warming up, still have my
sweats on; just trying to drink a lot of water. And then the first half went pretty much according to my plan I had an idea what I wanted to run at each
5-kilometer mark, and I looked at the women around me and some of them I knew from previous
races. I knew I couldn’t run with the
leaders I just wasn’t that good but not everybody can win. And there were a lot of us – you know – that were just in 10th-15th place and we ran as a group. After 15 miles or so, the field started to thin out, you are running a lot just by
yourself. And then I think, maybe at twenty miles I started to really feel the heat you know I thought: “It’s 6 more miles,
you’ve made ’til here.” “You are not lost. It looks good.” I missed the last water station I don’t know if he was consciously or sometimes you’re so focused, or you start to focus on your body… Anyway I just missed it. And that definitely had an impact for
the last few miles and I distinctly remember like the last mile I had to slow down and coming into the tunnel I really remember that because I thought “It’s a little cooler in there” And I knew from here on, it’s not that far to go. One of the big problems I had
was – I wish I could have had water more often especially since I missed that last station The ruling at
that time was that you could only get the water at these four
or five stations that they set up I just got dehydrated; and that’s why when I got into
the stadium the heat but more intense
in there. And at that point through dehydration,
your body cramps up. That was my main problem My head and everything
was still functioning I knew where I had to go I kinda told myself:
“Try to keep running, try to stay upright” And my muscles
just didn’t respond It just deteriorated over the last 400 metres. At that point it was just: “I’m in the Olympics, I wanna finish this
race because this is my one and only chance.” Because I was already 39 and I knew in another four years, there
would be a very slim chance to qualify again If it would have been another race,
just another marathon I would have probably stopped I think just from the heat in that stadium, I just started to
fall apart. But I clearly remember the cheering. The noise it was just incredible.
It was so loud! I didn’t expect something like that That probably kept me going too. There was a doctor, he was following me closely and watching me. Later on, he said – because there was a lot
of criticism from the press. They said they should
have stopped me – He said you – he’s familiar with these
these things – he said he was watching me closely, He said, that as long as I
still knew where I was going. and showed sign of sweating that it was okay. I read now or sometime see tapes it’s
not the first time and its it’s not uncommon in a hot long race that people have troubles. I know of a couple of other
marathon runners who had the same problem. but it happened earlier in the race And then they just
to you know quit and got a ride or whatever. With me, just making it that far I think it’s different. I think every other person
would have tried to finish I was very relieved and I was happy I got to the finish line. And then at
that point I didn’t care if I would be not feeling good for a week The main thing was: “I made it!” And I didn’t think I had anything damaged It was painful! During that last lap and the first hour in the medical tent I was in a lot of pain but then after two hours I was
fine You know, what really surprised me in a very a nice way Is all the compassion and the reaction of just average people that were watching
the Games And then also of the athletes I was kind of embarrassed that I didn’t do well and I thought
I didn’t deserve all this attention I really kinda felt guilty and other athletes they made me feel good because they were so supportive and I think that was one of the big
memories I have from the Games. At the time after the Olympics I would
have traded anything for a 10 to 15 place at not having that what I thought was a spectacle But now looking back with time, I can see that people kind of identify with you Because they see the struggle and they see that if you really set your mind to it
you can overcome a lot of obstacles It teaches you a lesson
too that besides overcoming obstacles, You have to get over some bad experiences and not dwell on it and just look
forward and hopefully learn
something from it

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