At 6 p.m., in broad daylight, Josh Trzeciak looked like he had either just been jumped or fallen out of a boxing ring. Dry heaving on the Winston Churchill High School infield, veins popping, eyes red and puffy, blood oozing out of his right heel, doubled over, one shoe on one shoe off, no idea where the missing right Nike was, a trainer tending to his wounds — the last guess from somebody surveying a snapshot of the Thomas S. Wootton runner would have been that Trzeciak was at a track meet in Montgomery County.
In reality, Trzeciak had not been mugged or lost a sparring match, but he had taken a spike to his right heel 550 meters into the 1,600 meters on Thursday in the county championships. Upon taking the spike — oddly enough, from his own teammate — Trzeciak’s right shoe popped off halfway, his heel leaking blood. Eventually, with 500 meters left, the Wootton senior ditched the shoe, kicking it off to close out the race half-and-half, one shoe on, one shoe off, and outlasted Will Bertrand and Urgy Eado, closing in 4 minutes, 21.04 seconds.
His retelling of the race goes like this:
“About 550 meters in, somebody spiked me, and my shoe came half off there so that was half off and I could still run with it but ... it hurt. So 600 [meters] in I get spiked, keep running, but what was weird is that it didn’t slow me down, it got me angry and I took the lead with the half shoe on.
“So I’m running with the half shoe on, I’m running and I started to pull away but it got harder and harder to keep going with the shoe on so with about 500 left I just kicked it off and I immediately surged because all the energy I was wasting with half a shoe, I just took off and it started to hurt a lot but I couldn’t even think about it I was so into the race.
“About 10 meters left into the race it started to burn so I was just like ‘Alright, 10 more meters, let’s just make it through.’ So I make it through, and I try to put weight on it for a second and I fell over.”
Upon collapsing at the finish line, Trzeciak was treated for several minutes, watching as 800 relays zoomed by and a trainer swaddled his right foot in several feet worth of bandages to stop the bleeding. Wootton coach Kellie Redmond, who said she has seen several cross country runners complete races missing a shoe but never a track runner, stopped over to check in on him. His first question was whether she would let him run in the 800, a title he felt compelled to defend.
But, upon observing him nearly crumple again after attempting to put weight on it, Redmond pulled him for the day to allow as much recovery time for regionals next week.
“You should have seen it,” Trzeciak said. “It was gross. I’ve had Achilles tendinitis for three years and I just got over it and somebody put a spike in it.”
“Never,” he added if he had ever finished a race anywhere close to similar like that. “And I never want to do it again.”
How they rank
3. Quince Orchard
4. Paint Branch
5. Thomas S. Wootton
2. Thomas S. Wootton
3. Richard Montgomery
5. Bethesda-Chevy Chase
WCAC Championships at Good Counsel, Friday and Saturday