Digital Media Center
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Gate 61
920 Paul Bryant Drive
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0370
(800) 654-4262

© 2024 Alabama Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Cross-Country Runner Hit By Deer Mid-Race


Runners prepare for all kinds of physical discomfort before a race - dehydration, blisters, sunburn. Not a whole lot of prep goes into getting knocked off your feet by a renegade deer. That is what happened to Justin DeLuzio while running his very last cross-country race of his college career last Saturday. He's a senior at Gwynedd Mercy University. He joins us now on the line. Justin, thanks for being with us.

JUSTIN DELUZIO: Oh, thank you so much, Rachel. I really appreciate the opportunity to share my story and get some knowledge for the sport and for our program.

MARTIN: So, yes, share your story, Justin. You're about a mile into your race when a pack of deer crossed the course. And what happened?

DELUZIO: Yeah, as you said, I'm about a mile in, and I can hear someone shout - watch out for that deer.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

DELUZIO: I suddenly turn my head left a little bit. And before I know it, my legs are in the air, and my back was on the ground. And he ended up getting me pretty good. I got to give him credit (laughter).

MARTIN: So you fall, and the deer run away. What did you do? You just got up and kept running?

DELUZIO: (Laughter) Well, not quite right away. I actually, you know - I sat there a little bit, not so much being hurt, but more so just a little confused as to what actually happened. And I had to acknowledge the likely - the unlikelihood of it occurring. I'm actually studying to become an actuary, which is essentially a person who uses numbers and statistics to assess risk. And that whole time on the ground, I could not have foreseen or calculated the odds of this happening.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

DELUZIO: So I'm - you know, I'm sitting on the ground. And then my teammate Matt French, who's a fellow senior - I've known him since my freshman year. He was a little bit behind me at the time. He helps me up, and he essentially runs the whole race with me. He could have run a faster time, but he decides to run with me. And, you know, we're able to finish the last four miles of it. And I owe him a big part because, you know, I don't think without him, the rest of my teammates, as well as my coaches - you know, that was the reason I really wanted to finish the race.

MARTIN: So that darn deer - he thwarted your chances of - what? - winning your last cross-country race? Are you mad at that guy?

DELUZIO: (Laughter) Actually, I have no hatred towards the deer at all. I think because of - because of what it's created, you know, around campus, around, you know - around a lot of, you know, sites, such as National Public Radio, it's...

MARTIN: Justin, I have to tell you, I was on the treadmill at the gym, and ESPN was on. All of a sudden, I look up, and there's you getting knocked down by a deer. You are famous now. This deer may have thwarted your race, but he made you a superstar, Justin (laughter).

DELUZIO: Yeah, it's a bit surreal. No resentment to him. Yeah, certainly grateful for everything that's happened. And everyone's been very supportive, so...

MARTIN: Has this - has this taught you anything? Do you have any guidance or advice you could give to others in your sport?

DELUZIO: Well, of course, always be aware of your surroundings because I know that that deer could have done a little bit more damage to me. I was just very, very lucky, very fortunate that, you know, the way hit me and actually that he wasn't - you know, wasn't a bigger deer.

MARTIN: And really, Justin, when you get knocked down, you just got to get back up.

DELUZIO: (Laughter) Very well said, Rachel. Very well said.

MARTIN: Justin DeLuzio - he got knocked down by a deer in his last college cross-country race, but managed to finish. Hey, Justin, thank you so much for talking with us.

DELUZIO: Rachel, thank you so much. I hope you have a great day.


BEN HOFFMAN: (Singing) Deer on the loose. Deer on the loose. Tonight, my dear, you're going to be on the news. Deer on the loose.

MARTIN: (Laughter) Oh, this is NPR News (laughter). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

News from Alabama Public Radio is a public service in association with the University of Alabama. We depend on your help to keep our programming on the air and online. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.