Posted by: rundadrun | May 14, 2010

Acts of kindness, even during a race.

At the recent Cincinnati Flying Pig 10K, something happened that really got me thinking.  As the first woman finisher was coming in to the finish, it was quite obvious that she was in great distress.  She stumbled several times and then finally began to collapse literally one step away from the finish line.  It was at this point that the second place runner stopped, put her arms under her opponents arms and lifted her toward the finish, with the help of the race director.  She actually helped the other runner win.

Now, I know there are a good number of people who immediately called foul and said the fallen runner should be disqualified for receiving assistance.  I don’t want to argue that point, because I think it takes away from the overall message of the moment.

The young lady who helped a fellow runner gave up her chance to win in order to help her opponent.  What a selfless act of kindness that was.  She could have easily passed her, won the race, and then come back to help.  I don’t think anyone would have thought poorly of her for that.  But she gave up victory to help someone in need.

I was reminded of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany.  Jesse Owens was down to his last attempt to qualify in the long jump.  He had foot-faulted twice, although one was actually a practice run through that the German judges counted as an attempt. It was at this point that Luz Long, the German champion, approached Jesse and introduced himself.  He advised Jesse to set his take off mark back a few inches so he would be safely behind the takeoff board on his last attempt.  Jesse took his advice and made a clean jump to qualify for the finals.  He would go on to beat Luz on his final jump.  The first to congratulate Jesse was Luz Long. He embraced Jesse, in front of Hitler and the world.  Luz Long could have kept his advice to himself, and won the long  jump and made Hitler proud.  Instead, he chose to help a competitor, and fly in the face of all of Nazi Germany.  Jesse Owens never got to see Luz again. Long was killed in World War II.  But Jesse kept in touch with his family for years.

What an amazing story of selflessness.  Do you think we would still remember anything about Luz Long if he had chosen to keep his advice to himself and win the gold?  I can’t remember who won the gold in long jump at the last Olympic Games, but I will always remember the lesson of  Luz Long.

And I will always remember the amazing finish to the 2010 Flying Pig 10K.  Not because it was an amazing race. I will always remember the act of kindness that cost one young lady the victory, but touched everyone with her class.

I would hope that as a Christian, I would not hesitate to do the same thing in her place.  But since my chances of being anywhere near the front-runners in any race I enter are non-existent, I will have to try to do this in my everyday life.  As Christians, we are all called to help our fellow-man, even if they are a competitor.

Imagine what a boring story it would have made if the Good Samaritan had just helped one of his friends out.  So, go forth and be nice. 🙂

Happy running,




  1. Great story. Thanks for the perspective!

    • Thanks Lee Ann! Hope all is well on the West side of the country.

      • fantastic thoughts! thanks for the moment of reflection.

      • Thanks! I am glad you dropped by.

  2. What a great story! And such a good reminder to all of us runners why we do what we do. It’s not to win at the sake of trampling our opponents. Good post RunDad!

    • Thanks for the kind comment. I have seen runners do some great things for others. I like what you said about winning not meaning trampling others. Thanks again.

  3. I pray that I too would have helped her.

    • I would pray I would too. Thanks for stopping by.

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