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Football Gets Assist From...Shalane Flanagan?

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And some of you are probably asking: Who is Shalane Flanagan?

Flanagan is a former Tar Heel women's track and cross country runner who won graduated as one of the most decorated runners in UNC history winning two NCAA titles in cross country and several ACC/NCAA titles on the track. Think of her as the Tyler Hansbrough of UNC cross country/track. Last summer Flanagan won a bronze medal in the Olympics at 10,000 meters. She also holds the American records at both the 5000 and 10,000. Flanagan is currently a volunteer assistant cross county coach at UNC and according to Butch Davis has offered some assistance in Zack Pianalto's rehab via a particular exercise machine she owns:

"An interesting thing with Zack Pianalto is that there is a young lady here in town. I am forever grateful to her because she is helping our football program immensely and she won a bronze medal in last summer’s Olympics in the 10,000 meters. She lives here in town, but she’s got an exercise machine that allows you to take your body weight off your body, because long-distance runners are using this apparatus. It’s like the same stuff that astronauts do to take all of the weight off them.

"Basically, Zack is actually running on a treadmill on this machine and he was able to take – I think he weighs about 250 pounds – and he said they were able to take about 60 percent of his body weight which would have made him weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of about 115 pounds.

"So he was able to run full speed on a treadmill. He did it on Monday and he did it today and he’s going to do it on Friday, and they keep adding bodyweight to the machine… We’d love to be able to acquire one of these for the athletic program, because it is clearly one of the most cutting edge technology things. But it’s going to help Zack get back into running and hopefully maybe in the next week or so you might be able to see him return to practice."

Good stuff. Incidentally, it sounds as though Pianalto might be back soon though his return can certainly wait until the FSU game based on the next two opponents.