Footage of two strangers helping each other to complete marathon inspires world
For many runners participating in a marathon, the goal isn't to finish first. For many, it's simply about completing such an arduous test of endurance after months of painful training and preparation.
Two complete strangers participating in the Pittsburgh Marathon went viral after they helped support one another to the finish line with a quiet act of encouragement: holding each other's hand for the remaining one mile.
Two other runners, Betsy Magovern and Daniel Heckert, had finished and were part of the cheer station at the 25-mile mark when they spotted Laura Mazur of New Bremen, Ohio and Jessica Robertson of Braddock, Pa., the very last runners of the race. The women were holding hands in an effort to cheer one another on.
Behind Mazur and Robertson was the sweep car, the crew who ensures that everyone involved in the race finishes at an allotted seven hours and helps those who cannot complete the marathon.
"The ones that are coming in later need us the most," Magovern told CBS Pittsburgh. "We saw the sweep car coming, but sure enough, we see these two ladies trotting along, holding hands and I told Dan, 'We need to snap a picture of this, this is what the marathon is all about.'"
"I just ran over to grab my phone as they were coming," Heckert, a Steel City Road Runners coach, said. "They started holding hands right before they got to the mile 25 cheer station. I just wanted to capture the moment that showed these two ladies were going to finish the same race that [the] winner did."
Magovern spoke with the two dedicated marathon runners and learned that Mazur and Robertson did not know each other before the race, and to her, the moment represented what the "running community is all about."
According to Heckert, this marked Mazur's 12th marathon and Robertson's first. They met at mile 14.
"What impressed me most was their spirit at mile 25," Magovern said. "They were in good spirits and good cheer. There's a lot of raw emotion at mile 25, that's why it's helpful to have a cheer station there."
To Magovern, who has participated and cheered in a number of marathons, it was "one of the most emotional and beautiful running moments" she had ever witnessed.
"It isn't about finishing first," Magovern said. "It's about helping each and every person change their lives for the better."