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Man challenges UVA track star to race at McLean HS, loss goes viral

McLean High School sign (file photo)

An impromptu race at McLean High School has gained some serious online traction.

University of Virginia track star Alahna Sabbakhan was visiting the school at 1633 Davidson Road for a straightforward workout, but then, a friend of her boyfriend claimed that he could beat her in a 400-meter race, despite not being a runner.

“He refused to believe that a woman could beat him in a race,” Sabbakhan said in a video that has been viewed more than 11 million times since she posted it on TikTok on Dec. 17.

A sprinter and middle distance runner, Sabbakhan says in the video that, while she didn’t have anything to prove, she agreed to the challenge only because she was already planning to run 400 meters for her workout. When he invited his parents, family and friends to watch, however, she started wondering “what the heck did I get myself into?”

After keeping even with the unnamed man for about 200 meters, Sabbakhan kicked her pace into another gear for the second half of the race and won without seeming to break a sweat.

“I finished hard, because that’s what you do as a track runner, and this was also one of the reps of my 400 workout, so I’m just doing my workout,” she said.

Sabbakhan added that she finished the 400 meters in 57 seconds, “which is pretty good for practice.” Her personal best time of 54.67 seconds was achieved at the Atlantic Coast Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships last year, according to her UVA athlete profile.

In an interview with UVA Today, UVA’s Office of University Communications publication, Sabbakhan said she initially regretted sharing the video on social media, where it has started to gain a foothold on other platforms.

She noted that she didn’t intend for people to “jump on” the man and they’re “on good terms” after talking about the viral video.

A native of D.C., Sabbakhan graduated from St. John’s College High School before attending UVA, where she’s now a senior.

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