Both runners struggled in the race but met up with three miles left and finished together.
One elite amateur runner learned a valuable lesson in the New York City Marathon two weekends ago: Never give up.
It’s a cliché, but it rang true for Mike Cassidy. After struggling through the first 10 miles of the race, the Staten Islander contemplated quitting. He had lost touch with the pack of guys he was running with and was left alone with 16 miles to go.
Cassidy, a 2012 Olympic Trials qualifier who carries a 2:18 PR, decided to keep pushing and try to make it to Central Park despite pains in his legs and negative thoughts clouding his mind.
“I thought of my family, my friends, the outpouring of support I had received from the Staten Island running community and my friends throughout New York City,” Cassidy wrote on letsrun.com. “They were counting on me. So I settled into a comfortable rhythm. For the first time in my running career, I stopped looking at my watch. One mile at a time.”
Later, as Cassidy hit mile 23, he realized he had caught up to his idol, Meb Keflezighi.
“Let’s go Meb,” Cassidy said to the 2004 Olympic silver medalist and 2009 New York City Marathon champion, who was having his own struggles in the race.
The pair ran the final three miles together, taking turns at the front as they shared the workload.
“It was like getting to play basketball with Michael Jordan,” Cassidy wrote. “Only it was Game 7 of the NBA Finals and he had just passed me the ball.”
Cassidy recalled the final stretch of the race: “As we entered Central Park at Columbus Circle, I turned to Meb. ‘It’s an honor to run with you,’ I said. His response is something I’ll never forget. ‘No,’ he said. ‘Today is not about us. It’s about representing New York. It’s about representing Boston. It’s about representing the USA and doing something positive for our sport. We will finish this race holding hands.'”
The pair crossed the finish line together, their hands joined and raised high.
For More: Letsrun.com