A third year broke her leg running a marathon, and kept on running

The paramedic called her a ‘stupid idiot’

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When Emma Neild’s family and friends told her to break a leg, they didn’t think she’d take it so literally.

Emma, a third year Maths student, was running the Coventry half marathon as part of Fundraising Week to help Mathsoc raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust, when just a mile in, she broke her leg.

Emma, like a total hero, kept on running until she had completed the remaining 12 miles.

Emma told The Tab: “Before the race, I felt like something was wrong with my ankle/lower leg but thought it was nothing serious so ignored it, as I really wanted to run. I’m not a runner at all and had never raced before, but had put some effort into training so didn’t want it to go to waste.

Emma before the race

Emma before the race

“A couple of weeks earlier, I was running down Bournbrook Road and felt a slight pain above my ankle, so there was definitely something a bit wrong with my leg previously.

“About a mile in, I felt a sudden sharp pain above my ankle and knew I should stop, but I carried on without stopping until the very end. I knew something really bad had happened but it just didn’t cross my mind that it could be a broken bone. I also knew if I stopped at all, I would probably have to sit down and wouldn’t complete the race. I’d only been running for ten minutes and had over two hours left.”

While most people would have stopped, Emma’s competitive streak kept her going. She finished in an impressive two hours and 16 minutes before blacking out at the finish line.


“I kept on running because I knew there was a finish line some distance away each mile I ran was one mile closer to that finish. Once I was over the line, then I could be sorted out by the medical professionals.

“I’m just too competitive a person to just drop out of something like this – even a broken bone wouldn’t stop me! Despite the pain, I think adrenaline and the cheering of the spectators kept me going.

“I finished the race in 2 hours, 16 minutes and 55 seconds. Realistically, without a broken leg I would’ve only expected myself to finish 4 or 5 minutes quicker. But once I got over the finish line I collapsed and blacked out for a second because of the sheer pain. I was taken into the medical tent and then hospital, where I found out I’d just run nearly the whole race with a broken fibula.”



“The amount of pain I was in was incomparable to any other pain I’ve felt before. As somebody who has never really been a runner, running a half marathon in itself was easily the hardest challenge I’ve faced in my life – but running it on a broken leg was just ridiculous. Afterwards, my thumbs were red raw because I’d been digging my nails in them whole time!”

Emma’s now in a cast, and has to use crutches until halfway through the Easter holidays. It will be seven weeks until her leg is fully healed. She told The Tab: “I can’t walk far on crutches because my leg still hurts a lot when I stand up, so have been able to spend lots of time lying in bed! I need to go for weekly x-rays to see any progress. There was a possibility of needing an operation to put in a pin, but thankfully I don’t think that will be necessary anymore!”

What a hero

What a hero

But some people managed to see the funny side – the paramedic who saw to Emma called her a stupid idiot, and even wrote it on her medical record. Emma also said: “There’s been a lot of people calling me a hero and some calling me crazy. I definitely agree more with the latter.”

Emma said that Teenage Cancer Trust was chosen as Mathsoc’s charity for this years’ Fundraising February because it’s “a great cause, helping to support thousands of teenagers who are suffering from cancer.”

If you want to make Emma’s pain worth it, you can donate to Mathsoc’s fundraising page here.