On Monday, an inspirational story about runners who carried a collapsed man across the finish line at the Boston Marathon went viral.
It turns out that isn’t exactly how the scene played out, but the factual account as reported by the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery, is no less moving.
According to Lowery, who witnessed the event firsthand, a Massachusetts man began to shut down as he neared the 26-mile mark. As the grueling race began to take its toll on his body, the man’s legs gave out right after he passed The Forum restaurant, with the finish line in sight.
Dave Meyer, a 57-year-old man from Greyslake, Ill., was the first person to notice that this man, who asked his identity remain private, was in trouble. Meyer had his sights set simply on finishing the race as he told Lowery that he was disappointed in his time, so when he noticed a fellow runner so close to the end, but in danger of not reaching it, he stopped to help.
“I was approaching about mile 26. I could see the other runner in front of me, his legs were wobbly. He looked like he was about to go down…” Meyer recalled. “At that point, my time didn’t make any difference to me… I knew how important it was that I finish. So I knew it was important that he finish.”
Meyer put the runner’s arm around his shoulder, but the weight was simply too much for the exhausted individuals. They were close to falling when Texas native Jim Grove caught up to them. A marathon veteran, Grove was also unhappy with his time, calling it the “hardest marathon” he’s ever run, but when he saw the two struggling, he didn’t hesitate to grab the runner’s other arm and continue toward the finish line.
The three men moved forward as one, but the injured runner couldn’t continue on as his legs had completely given out at this point. It took only seconds for another selfless runner to intervene, and then one more stepped in to help, not long after that.
Mike Johnson, a 47-year-old Minnesota native, and Kathy Goodwin, an accountant from Seattle, lended their tired selves when the three men needed it the most. Someone, it is unclear who, suggested that they grab the runner’s legs to continue moving forward. As a group, the runners pressed on as the Boylston St. crowd erupted in cheers at the display of altruism.
But with just a few hundred feet to go, the man implored the group to let him down so that he could finish the race on his own.
“We made a decision,” Meyer recalled. “Let’s put him down. Let’s let him walk across on his own.”
And he did. They all did. After coming together, embodying what it means to be “Boston Strong” and exemplifying the resilience that defined the 118th Boston Marathon, they went their separate ways. But it is their display of unity that lives on and reminds everyone that this year, we all finished the race.
Photo via Twitter/@WesleyLowery