Olathe runner posts her best 5K time of season despite finishing race with one shoe in hand

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OLATHE, Kan. -- Sometimes, the hardest opponent to beat lies within.

That was the case for one metro cross country runner, but when the Olathe North High School athlete faced adversity, she battled through it.

Just keep running.

That's Phoebe Fyffe's solution to a problem she encountered during a recent cross country event, the Kansas City Classic. Her team of 70 cross country runners was competing in the event's 5K race on October 1st, when another runner got too close to Fyffe.

Fyffe was well past the midway point with about a mile remaining, and someone stepped on her right foot. The gaffe caused her shoe to be bent back, and her foot barely remained inside. Fyffe stumbled mid-race while nearly losing the shoe. Stopping to re-tie it would have cost her the race.

“I knew if I was going to keep going, I would have to kick off my shoe,” Fyffe said.

She needed that size nine to finish the race, since the official's timing chip is stored inside. Any runner finishing such a race without that chip wouldn’t receive a time for the event.

Instead, Fyffe caught the shoe and kept running with only a sock on her right foot.

“I was doing well in my race, and I wanted to keep going,” Fyffe said.

Fyfee's teammate, Sarah Whitaker, saw the kick-and-go move, but it wasn't surprising to her. She says Phoebe always runs to win.

“The coaches are always telling us to keep going and to go the extra mile, and when it's all over, it will be worth it,” Whitaker told FOX 4 News on Wednesday.

“As a runner, she never eases up. She never complains. She just does what's required of her,” Whitaker said.

The race turned out to be Fyffe's best 5K time of the cross country season at 20:37, placing her in the top 30 out of 160 runners.

“Day in and day out, I don't know how many miles she's run, but it's well in the thousands and she's 16,” Levi Huseman, Olathe North Cross Country Coach, said.

Fyffe says the idea of quitting the race never entered her mind. She says Eagle coaches constantly encourage female athletes to be strong and capable, and that's what helped her complete that event.

(Reporter’s note: I’d like to express my thanks to KC Sports Photography for many of the race images used in the broadcast version of this story. James Shultz, that company’s owner can be contacted at jlshultz@kcsports.photography or on Twitter at @jlshultz.)