Oregon sophomore Justin Gallegos has cerebral palsy but despite his neurological condition, he crossed the finish line at Hayward Field on Sunday morning in two hours, three minutes and 49 seconds to complete the Eugene Half Marathon.
Gallegos’ goal for the race was to break two hours and was aided by a team of pacers including Brett Kirby, the head physiologist in the Nike Sports Research Lab who also worked closely with Nike’s Breaking2 attempt to break the two-hour barrier for the marathon. Gallegos overcame severe foot cramps in the final miles of the race but still finished.
“Today I ran and finished my very first half marathon in a time of 2:03:49.” Gallegos wrote on Instagram. “While I did not break two hours, I’m still very proud of my performance today especially for my first half marathon! I had a tremendous support team especially from my pacers who pushed me the entire way! This will be something that I will remember forever, not only setting a record, but showing everyone that it is possible to be limitless! It doesn’t matter what others say or do, your only limit is your mind! Thank you everyone for the continuous support! I hope that this race can show others regardless of if we have a disability or not, there are truly no limits!”
The half marathon on Sunday was the longest distance that Gallegos has ever raced. He is a member of the University of Oregon’s running club and has competed in shorter distances on the track.
His run earned him congratulations from marathoner Eliud Kipchoge, who covered 26.2 miles in 2:00:25 in Breaking2.
Gallegos has been working with Nike on testing a prototype shoe for runners with disabilities. The shoe features a zipper around the heel that creates an easier entry point for those who wear it.