A division one track and field athlete posted a video of a race between her and a man that challenged her to a race after refusing “to believe a woman could beat him in a race”.
Alahna Sabbakhan shared the video showing the race against her boyfriend’s friend to TikTok, where she could be seen out running the man with ease.
In her video, she explained that they were running 400 metres and only agreed to the race because that was the workout she was planning to do regardless. The University of Virginia runner showed footage of the race along with text on the screen that explained her thought process. According to the runner, she decided to keep up with the man’s pace, pointing out that he “does not run regularly,” because she didn’t think it was worth overexerting herself.
But after hitting the halfway mark, Sabbakhan picked up the pace to “finish hard, because that’s what you do as a track runner”.
The clip ended with the gap between the man and her being fairly wide as she admitted that he doesn’t “run regularly”.
“Just to clarify, I did NOT want to race this man,” her TikTok caption read. “I was already at the track with my bf doing a work out and he came to join.”
Speaking with Today, Sabbakhan said she thought it was “ridiculous” when she first started hearing the rumours that her boyfriend’s friend believed he could run faster than her. “He didn’t really know what to challenge me in,” she told the outlet.
“He was like: ‘Yeah, I could beat her in the 400’ — not realising that that was one of the hardest track events and that was one of my secondary events.”
Despite her just inviting the challenger to workout with her, he ended up bringing a crowd with him consisting of his parents and friends. The runner said most people could assume how the race was going to end just based on watching her warmup by running a mile.
“He just kind of showed up,” she said. “I don’t know what he was expecting.”
Although her main event is the 800-metre race, she ended up finishing the 400-metre competition in 57 seconds which, Sabbakhan claimed was “pretty good for practice”. Her personal best times are 53 seconds from a 400m leg of a relay and 54 seconds in an open race.
“It was a successful workout, I think,” she said.
As for her competitor, the two of them are apparently “cool” now, and he ended up gracefully accepting his defeat. “He wasn’t like: ‘Oh, that wasn’t fair.’ He was like: ‘Yeah, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,’” she said.
“I feel like it was just a really good learning experience. It showed people that they need to stop underestimating us — as in track athletes, female athletes.”
After posting the video almost a year after the race, which took place in January 2023, it went on to receive over 10 million views. At first, Sabbakhan said there were many comments calling the interaction a “universal experience” for female athletes.
However, she soon ended up turning off the comments after people began to debate whether or not male athletes are stronger.
“They were saying: ‘You barely beat him, that just shows how slow you are. Now race one of your male teammates.’ Like, ‘Men are still stronger,’” she said. “I never said any of that.”
“[People] kind of just made it what they wanted to make it,” she added.