Two complete strangers who were trailing behind in Sunday’s Pittsburgh Marathon helped each other finish the race in dead last place after seven hours.
Laura Mazur from Ohio and Jessica Robertson from Pennsylvania met halfway through the 26.2 mile course when they realized they were the last two runners.
Daunted by the long road ahead, they vowed to help each other cross the finish line.
Laura Mazur (left) and Jessica Robertson (right) held hands for the entire home stretch
‘I looked back to see if I was the last one and found another racer and a new friend,’ Mazur said on Facebook. ‘I told her I’d stay with her if she stayed with me.’
The pair were closely followed by the sweep car, which collects runners who cannot finish, but the women did not let each other quit.
It was Mazur’s 12th marathon and Robertson’s first.
Daniel Heckert, a runner who had finished the half marathon, spotted Mazur and Robertson approaching the cheer station at the 25-mile mark hand-in-hand.
‘I just ran over to grab my phone as they were coming,’ he told CBS Pittsburgh.
‘I just wanted to capture the moment that showed these two ladies were going to finish the same race that [the] winner did.’
Heckert’s photo has been shared more than 3,100 times on Facebook.
Many users have commented that they felt inspired by the two women’s perseverance and support for each other.
Laura Mazur (left) turned around to see if she was the last runner in Sunday’s Pittsburgh Marathon when she met Robertson (right). They gave each other a much-needed boost
After a seven hour and 22 minute slog – and eight minutes before the marathon shut down – the two women were the very last runners to cross the finish line.
The determined duo were cheered on by marathon staff, with the announcer thanking them ‘for being an inspiration to all of us.’
Robertson said on Facebook it was ‘an accomplishment I know I’ll never forget’. She called Mazur a ‘life-long friend’.
‘It wasn’t about gender, it wasn’t about race, it wasn’t about religion – none of that mattered,’ Robertson told CBS Pittsburgh.
‘We were just two individuals, two humans, who had a goal in mind and we leaned on each other to get there.’
Betsy Magovern, who was cheering the women on with Heckert, said it was ‘one of the most emotional and beautiful running moments’ she had ever witnessed.
‘We often celebrate the winners, but not often does the public get to hear the stories of those at the end,’ Heckert said.