She said she thought not of her coach, nor her parents, nor anyone else who had encouraged her to never give up, to see things to the finish. Instead, she thought of the countless stories she had heard about runners who collapsed before a race's end and somehow found the courage to cross that last line. Even if her leg had given out at the 400-meter mark, she said, it wouldn't have mattered. She was going to finish.
"They may not have let me, and it might not have been pretty, but I would have tried," she said.
"I had come so far. Our team had come so far. All season, we had been working for state, and now we were there. I was almost done, and there was no way I was going to let the team down."
So, she finished the race in a time of 20:24.07, only 18 seconds slower than her personal best (20:06), despite crawling for the last 45 feet. The finish was good for 67th place, helping her school to a fourth-place finish in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III championship.
"When I saw her crawling, I wanted to cry," said Richard Markwardt, Claire's father. "I was just so incredibly proud -- as proud as any father could be."
After the race, there were no tears, no screams of horror. Instead, Markwardt sat patiently on a training table while doctors put a splint on her leg and then transferred her to a Columbus hospital. She had broken her tibia in multiple places, her fibula in just one. She needed surgery, in which a rod and a series of screws were placed in her leg to help piece it together.
Doctors told her they believed her original soreness was a stress fracture made worse by running in the state meet. They said she likely suffered a partial crack of her tibia at first, but when she pressed on, she shattered the bone in multiple places. And when she stood up to try to finish the race, doctors told her, that's when they believe she broke her fibula.
It was around 1:40secs when she first stumbles she got up and stumbled again. Then she crawled to the finish line. She showed determination and courage. What an inspiration this is.