Running is a solo sport, but never in a million years did high school cross-country runner Gabe Price think he’d be the only person on the course while trying to qualify for the state championship. However, the senior at Paradise High was in that situation after he and his family lost their home in the Camp Fire in northern California.
Price had to miss his qualifying meet because his father directed him to gather important items from the house before the Camp Fire burned it down.
“I need my family to come out of this alive,” Price thought, according to the Enterprise-Record. “And of course, all of this was happening while I was supposed to be racing.”
While Price and his family were consumed by the destruction of their home, his coach and the school’s athletic director did the only thing they could do to provide a little light in the family’s life. They contacted the state office to see if Price could still try and qualify for state. Officials agreed and told them that Price needed to run on the same course the other runners competed on that day.
So, they drove to the course on a Saturday, and Price was stunned by the amount of support that was offered from local Chico High School runners and their families.
“That was a pretty amazing moment,” Price told Sports Illustrated. “It was one that I was completely clueless was going to happen. As far as I was concerned, it was going to be me, my family, the coach and maybe an official, and I was just going to go out and run and try and make it. I still remember it but I pulled up and I’m just like, ‘Dad that’s a lot of people and I’m just like oh my goodness.'”
The boost did wonders for his performance, too. He needed to clock a 17:40 to qualify for state, and he came in at 17:12.
“To be honest, I’ve never really felt this type of support and love from people I didn’t really know on a deep personal level,” he said. “…It’s been a really amazing experience.”