Despite a mid-race visit to the hospital to receive stitches, Liam Killeen (Specialized) finished the World Marathon Championships last weekend in Villabassa, Italy.
"Between feeds one and two (i.e. between the 20km and 50km mark) Liam Killeen crashed pretty bad on one of the descents," said Manager Bobby Behan. "He was in the lead group and was feeling good. I was located at feed two, while Liam's mum Kay was at feed three (67km mark). A medic loaned Liam his phone and Liam phoned Kay to say that he was OK, but needed some stitches, but he would continue. I remained and waited."
"Finally, a motorcycle arrived and I asked, 'Where's 98 Killeen?' He had no English and I no German, but we agreed on 'fini' and 'hospital'. I was not concerned because I suppose after the phone call, I was relieved to know Liam was OK, and I figured he would be back at the truck with a few stitches to keep him together! I soldiered on to feed four (80km point) to support Susi [Christoph Sauser - ed.] who was at the front in a battle with Leonardo Paez and Roel Paulissen."
Liam's mum showed up at the hospital to look for Liam after watching Sauser finish. "Is number 98 here?" she called and the reply was "He is racing," which made no sense to her.
It turned out that Killeen got a ride to the hospital where he received seven stitches and some bandages to his shoulder. Although there was a long line of damaged mountain bikers awaiting treatment, Killeen skipped the queue by saying he was still racing.
"All bandaged and stitched up, Liam got a lift from the same volunteer who brought him to the hospital back to the exact point where he crashed," said Behan. "At this point he was a least an hour down, but Liam jumped back on his bike and finished."
When asked what was going through Killeen's head when he crashed, he replied, "Susi would continue, so I am going to continue". Killeen finished 85th of 101 finishers despite his side trip to the hospital mid-race.