Ten seconds later

Every finish line has a story.

At the Prague Marathon in 2006, I ran with a man I did not know for about 15 miles and then lost him just shy of the finish line. His knee revolted and he had to walk. I never found him so I’d like to take this moment to virtually shake his hand.

At the London Marathon in 2007 – let’s call him a senior veteran runner – was ahead of me at the finish line. He was leisurely walking, as if out for a Sunday stroll. I was running as if, well, as if I’d just done 26.2 miles in massive pain. It is my favorite finish line photo.

At the Silicon Valley Marathon in 2007, my three children were feet from the finish line and I stopped to kiss each of them (that is the photo in my banner). It was my best race ever and they were there to see me through to the end.

Sunday’s San Diego Marathon had many finish line stories too. Here is just one.

Just ahead of me, with only yards to go, a man collapsed. Another woman and I stopped to help him. With each of us holding one arm, he would try to get up but his legs would crumble. The announcer called for medical help and three volunteers rushed to his side. He waved me on and I crossed the finish line…10 seconds later.

Writing this, I can see his face, his eyes, his body folded over with head to knees. His mind and heart were still in the race but his legs had betrayed him. Ten seconds, ten seconds, just ten more seconds.

I am ashamed to say I don’t know if he crossed or not. Once I made it and got in the “medal, chip, water” line that we marathoners know so well, I couldn’t see the finish. But I did hear the announcer cheering on one man, encouraging him to make it just a few more feet. The announcer even said, “He isn’t going to remember me doing this, but let’s get him across the finish line,” or something like that.

I assume he made it. I sure hope so. I hope he is proud of what he accomplished.

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