Summer Games hopeful Caitlin Keen will not run away from fear

With dreams of qualifying for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan, the date of Sunday March 3 shall stand as both, a defining, yet frightening, moment in the journey of Caitlin Keen. Running on the Trinity Trails of Fort Worth, where she had already logged seven miles, a pit bull mix violently, and unexpectedly, attacked her. First reported on KTVT-TV, the incident became national news. Understandably, it was not the type of exposure that Keen, expected.

Luckily, nearby witnesses came to her aid. Although a lady threw a large rock at the aggressive dog, whose brute force literally pulled Keen down to the ground, her rescue came when a man who was walking two other dogs, grabbed the pit bull by the collar and sat on it, calling 911 afterwards. Perhaps more disturbing than the violent attack was the fact that the owner of the dog, who was not present during Keen’s unfortunate assault, did not show any remorse.

Sadly, this is not the first time that Keen’s career has coincided with unforeseen happenings. Making her first appearance at the Dallas Marathon in 2017, Keen’s second place finish was a topic of debate. Winner, Chandler Self, crossed the finish line in an exhausted state with the assistance of a local teenager. With Keen not issuing a challenge, possibly a display of compassionate sportsmanship, akin to the pit bull encounter, it was a heart-wrenching example of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Currently quarantined for 10 days at Fort Worth Animal Care and Control, the attack of this fierce animal, who had no bite history prior to this occurrence, is another example in the case to ban pit bull dogs in numerous communities. With a court date to follow, in that a judge will decide on the dog’s fate, the owner, identified as a homeless person, should be concerned about possible criminal charges.

Surprisingly, Keen did not receive stitches immediately, getting them following the prudent advice of her physician. Receiving 21 stitches, as her back suffered significant scarring; the real salve came several days later. Syndicated television show “Inside Edition” arranged a heartwarming reunion between the rescuer and an emotional Keen, tearfully hugging him as a gesture of gratitude.

Last December, Keen’s finish at the California International Marathon allowed her to qualify for the US Olympic Trials. It was part of a milestone-filled year for the alum of Southern Methodist University, where she was a walk-on in both, track and cross-country, capturing six conference championships, achieving another dream earlier in the year. Winning Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon in the month of May, it was a race that she boldly predicted she would one day win when she was only 12 years old.

Keen, who also trains with the Cowtown Elite, is in good spirits, stating that a totally different level of pain tolerance is one of the results. Although she plans to return to the Trinity Trails as part of her daily training routine, she plans to employ the strategy of carrying a can of pepper spray, one of her approaching goals is to cross the finish line first at Flying Pig once again this May.

Recognized for tenacity and character, the national media attention has brought with it a new legion of fans, admiring her relentless effort and indomitable spirit. Regardless of the final outcome for the Summer Games, her heart of gold has already propelled her to a sporting greatness.

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