Hurt Me If You Can: The Tales of a High School Runner

“Through the hours of protests as well as the back and forth decisions on the ruling, I lost my enjoyment for the sport. By the end of it all I didn’t want the medal, I didn’t want the title, and I didn’t want to run another race. It was not the disqualification that killed me, it was the wait where I had to sit around and internalize whether I was a cheat, as I knew others were doing the same.” Hurt Me If You Can is an autobiographical account of Matt Baxter’s journey through high school in New Zealand. As a thirteen-year-old, Matt had little interest in being a runner. Like his peers, he wanted to play the “fun sports,” and running did not fit that mold. It took an unexpected medical event before Matt considered joining his school’s cross country team. He did not know it at the time, but over the next few years running was about to become Matt’s identity. From 2008 to 2012, Matt fought his way through adversity and held onto hope that running was going to take him places. At the same time, Matt was trying to navigate the complexities of being a teenager who loved some aspects of school, and hated others. By his final year, Matt didn’t want to just be labelled as a good runner, he wanted to be remembered as the best that his country had ever produced. It was not going to be an easy task, but Matt was ready for that challenge.