Five seconds is all the time it took for Bellevue East senior and cross country runner Brandon Schutt to help Omaha Burke sophomore Blake Cerveny at the district cross country meet on Oct. 15.
Cerveny had collapsed for the fourth time in the race and was around 30 meters ahead of Schutt at the time of his last fall.
Cerveny had only been on the ground for five seconds before Schutt helped him up and to the finish line.
Schutt said the reason he decided to help Cerveny was that he faced a similar situation earlier in the season at the Omaha Central Invite at Walnut Grove on Sept. 11.
“I was in 10th place. I was on pace to run like a massive personal record with a 17:35 and I made a massive gap in between 15th place and 10th place. I just like pushed way too hard to get to 10th place,” Schutt said.
Despite him mentally wanting to continue the race, Schutt’s body did not want to cooperate.
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“My legs just gave out, I just went out cold and I just kind of couldn’t finish the race,” Schutt said.
Schutt said once everyone was done with the race, he was helped to the finish line.
It was because of this personal experience with not being able to finish a race that Schutt said he felt the need to assist Cerveny.
“I’ve been in that situation before and it really does suck. Like for two weeks straight, I was like really, really upset with myself and upset with my body because I kept asking myself, you know, what if I finished, what happens if I got the medal,” Schutt said.
It was not a hard choice for Schutt to stop his race.
“Ultimately I just decided I was going to help him out to the finish,” Schutt said.
Cerveny was disqualified from the race and Schutt was not.
Until 2021, the National High School Federation cross country rules stated that if one runner aided another, both were disqualified. This year Rules 4-6-5g and 8-6-1e were changed so that the good Samaritan would not be penalized.
Schutt said he was not expecting the amount of attention he has been getting from helping out another runner.
“I actually got back to the tent and all my teammates who also ran the race with me, we decided we were going to go play Frisbee on the other side of Pioneers Park,” Schutt said.
Before the Frisbee game began, Schutt said he was pulled aside by a Bellevue West runner and showed him the now viral Twitter post from preprunningnerd.com.
According to the preprunningnerd.com, in just two days on Twitter, the initial tweet with the photos of Schutt and Cerveny generated 450 retweets, over 2,000 likes and 500,000 impressions.
On Facebook, where 30 pictures showed the sequence of about 30 seconds of action, the post has generated over 600 comments, 5,800 shares and a reach of over 1.3 million people.
Schutt said it has not hit him yet that this was his last competitive race in cross country but can guess what it will feel like when that time comes.
“I think it’s going to be like a real sense of relief, but also like a sense of this was a really fun four years that I had,” Schutt said.