“Running makes me happy, it makes me feel normal and whole. When I’m running I feel safe… everything is fine.” Kayla Montgomery
Kayla Montgomery has the heart of a gladiator. When she was fourteen she fell in a soccer game and felt tingling in her legs. After a series of test she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) which forced her to give up contact sports, but she insisted that she had to run.
Kayla tried out for her high school track team. She says she was a slow runner. Her coach Patrick Cromwell considered her average at best, perhaps a varsity hopeful by senior year. Kayla wouldn’t settle on average. MS is a heat activated disease that attacks the nerves, so when Kayla runs she loses feeling in her feet and doesn’t know where they are going or how fast. She had to teach herself to pace.
Because of her condition she can’t come to a coordinated stop, so her coach has to catch her and cool her down with liquids and ice. Once her body temperature returns to normal the MS symptoms subside. Kayla has a unique relationship with her coach, she trusts him. She describes him as a goofy, dorky dad.
Kayla trained and trained and eventually made the varsity team, became the team’s fastest runner, then began training full-time with the boys. At the North Carolina state outdoor championships Kayla fell in the first lap, did a flip, got up, brushed it off and went on to come in first place. She is considered one of the fastest young runners in the country.
Kayla’s story is perhaps the most inspiring running story I’ve come across since that of Ben Comen, the North Carolina high school distance runner with cerebral palsy. Watch Kayla’s story here: