Two runners stopped their own race to help another one in last Monday’s Boston Marathon.
This year’s Boston Marathon was an amazing event for all of the right reasons. No doubt you’ve read about many of the best stories, including the official tribute to last year’s victims and first responders, the $13 million runners raised for the race’s 30 charities, the near-record finishing rate of the race, Meb Keflezighi’s victory, and race director Dave McGillivray’s 25th consecutive late-night run from Hopkinton to Boston after the marathon had concluded.
But here’s one you might not have heard. Skye Taylor, a 22-year-old runner from Columbus, Ohio, was struggling mightily when she turned onto the homestretch on Boylston Street. Taylor is an accomplished runner, having run a 3:12:35 at the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati last May to qualify for Boston. She cruised through the halfway mark in Boston with a 1:35:25 split (7:17 mile pace) with the hopes of finishing the race in 3:10.
But, like many runners, she started to struggle on the second half of the course when the cumulative effects of downhill running and the rising temperatures caught up to her. She was still running well through the 40K mark (not quite 25 miles), having run the previous 5K at 7:46 mile pace, but that’s when the wheels started to fall off.
According to eyewitness reports, Taylor collapsed near Charlesgate Park just at about the 25.5-mile mark, just before the course sends runners under Massachusetts Avenue. Three Boston police officers and three race medical volunteers assisted her at that point. According to reports, she drank some water and ate a granola bar. She continued on, but bystanders were concerned because she was so disoriented.
Taylor made her way up the short stretch on Hereford Street, but her form was wobbly at best, so much so that several other runners asked her if she was OK. She had just turned the corner onto Boylston Street when Kyle Brumbaugh, a runner from Dayton, Ohio, came up behind her and noticed her staggering gait.
Like Taylor, Brumbaugh’s race plans had disintegrated midway through the course because of the heat and lack of hill training. (“Runners in the Midwest didn’t really get a chance to get outside and do hill workouts because of the long winter,” the 33-year-old IT engineer says.) Brumbaugh, who finished the Boston Marathon in 2:53:01 last year, came through the halfway mark this year in 1:29, but he said he was already getting overheated so he took his effort back a notch with the idea of just cruising to the finish.
He admits he had to walk part of the uphill on Hereford Street, but then started running again once he got onto the homestretch on Boylston.
“As soon as I turned the corner, I looked to my left and saw her kind of losing her balance,” he says. “I’ve run enough races to have seen that before. So I didn’t even think about it, I just came up and put my arm behind her to balance her out and asked her how she was doing.”
At that point, Brumbaugh says he was worried that Taylor was incoherent and not looking great, so he put her arm over his shoulder and started to help her along. As he did, another runner—Hugo Gonzalez, 49, of Miami, Fla.—stopped to help keep her upright on the other side. At the time, they were about a half block short of the 26-mile mark.
“Both of these men stopped their own race and without hesitating they helped her,” says eyewitness Sarah Emerson, a Maine resident who was cheering on runners while standing in front of Trader Joe’s on the north side of Boylston Street. ”At times they were practically carrying her, as her legs just would not move. These folks were literally taking each of her legs and moving them for her.”
Brumbaugh said that as he and Gonzalez were helping her along, several other runners stopped to help. He let another runner take his place and then ran to get race medical personnel. Soon, several Boston police officers who were along the course and race medical volunteers helped her to sit down on Boylston. They gave her some ice and a wet towel to cool her off.
“I wanted her to finish, but I didn’t want anything bad to happen to her,” Brumbaugh says. “Amazingly, she was able to get up and finish the race after that.”
Taylor crossed the finish line in 3:37:27 and, after getting an IV in the medical tent to rehydrate, found her family and recovered with a meal and plenty of rest.
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The story might have ended there, but Skye’s mother, Lynne Taylor, who also had been watching the race along Boylston, wanted to thank Gonzalez and Brumbaugh. She reached out via various social media channels and finally tracked down Brumbaugh at work later in the week. She invited him to be a special guest at a party to celebrate Skye’s graduation on May 3 from Ohio State University. He had found out earlier in the week that he and Skye were both from Ohio because an Associated Press photo from the race ran on the front page of the Dayton Daily News late last week.
Gonzalez went on to finish in 3:23:04, while Brumbaugh was clocked in 3:29:52.
“You go through all that effort to get to the Boston Marathon and you want to finish,” Brumbaugh says. “I was just trying to help her get that opportunity. It was an honor to be a part of the race this year and to help another runner in the process.
“I had a lot of running buddies who said, ‘You didn’t run that well in Boston, but at least you did well as a human that day.’”
After the race, Taylor apparently sent a note to the Boston Police Department on Facebook to express her gratitude. Here is the post in its entirety:
To the Boston Police Department,
I began running in elementary school, and since that time it has been my dream to run the Boston Marathon. The opportunity came more quickly than I expected when I qualified during my first marathon in May 2013. Less than two weeks after the attack on my sport, and my dream, I had the entry ticket I needed. Since September, when I received my confirmation of registration, preparations for the Boston Marathon have consumed my life.
My weekend in Boston prior to the race was one of the best of my life. I couldn’t stop smiling. This smile continued into the first section of the race. When I hit the half-way point, I realized that my body would not allow me to break 3:10, as I had hoped, but I adjusted my goal and told myself running a 3:20 wasn’t ‘that’ bad, at least I was running the Boston Marathon.
The next thing I remember is waking up surrounded by Boston Police. At first, I had no idea where I was, but as soon as they informed me I was in Boston, at the Marathon, I broke into hysterics when I realized my dream of running the Boston Marathon was dissolving around me. The officers were incredibly comforting, assuring me that everything would be okay, and with assistance I could finish. With their help, and the help of the medics, I made it across the finish line and received the finisher’s medal I have dreamed about for so long.
My finish (as you can see from the photos) was far from picturesque, but I am so thankful there were so many people on Boylston willing to help me. I have no idea exactly who helped me, but I have attached photos of the ordeal, in the chance you can help me find them and thank them personally. At the very least, I would appreciate it if you could make sure they know how grateful I am.
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