One of the greatest joys in life is the ability to share our triumphs and struggles with other people. Through the encouragement and companionships of another person, we are able to persevere even when the going gets tough or the road seems long.
Laura Mazur and Jessica Robertson met on Sunday, May 5, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they were both running in the 2019 Pittsburgh Marathon.
Robertson, a resident of the local suburb of Braddock, was running her first marathon and began to doubt that she would make it to the end.
“I thought to myself, I’m not going to make it,” she told KDKA. “There’s literally no one else out here but me and I can’t do this by myself, I just can’t.”
That’s when Robertson met Mazur. Mazur had journeyed to Pittsburgh from New Bremen, Ohio, and was also struggling — despite this being her 12th race.
“There’s part of you, you know, that’s saying, like, oh my gosh, I need to tap out on this, but then there’s the other part that’s like, shut up, no, go ahead, just do it, keep going on going,” Mazur told KDKA. “And I’m like, sometimes you actually need somebody right there beside you audibly telling you that.”
When the two women met at mile 14, they vowed to help each other complete the race. Mazur told Robertson, “I’ll make you a promise. I won’t leave you if you don’t leave me. And no matter what, we will cross together.”
Even though Robertson and Mazur were going to be last, they knew it was still a personal victory to be able to finish, so the two women kept going.
When they made it to mile 25, Robertson and Mazur were spotted holding hands by Dan Heckert and Betsy Magovern, who had just finished the half marathon and were at the cheering station to encourage runners on the final stretch.
“The ones that are coming in later need us the most,” Magovern told KDKA. “We saw the sweep car coming, but sure enough, we see these two ladies trotting along, holding hands and I told Dan, ‘We need to snap a picture of this, this is what the marathon is all about.'”
Hand in hand, Robertson and Mazur finished the final mile together, cheered on by those on the sidelines and clearly proud of their accomplishment.
Dan’s photo of the two women has gone viral, and is inspiring people everywhere. It is both a picture of endurance and friendship: A reminder of the power of running the race of life together.
Robertson voiced this exact thought in an interview, where she said, “It wasn’t about gender. It wasn’t really about race. It wasn’t about religion. None of that mattered. We were just two individuals, two humans who had a goal in mind and we leaned on each other to get there.”
Robertson and Mazur ended up crossing the finish line as the timer read just over 7 hours and 50 minutes.
Even though the two women may have finished last, they have been surrounded by celebration and support from their fellow runners.
Mazur talked about her “new friend” Robertson in a sentimental Facebook post about the race saying, “Sometimes you just find people you click like LEGOS with…and it’s even better when they sing the LEGO song with you.”
“We often celebrate the winners, but not often does the public get to hear the stories of those at the end,” Heckert said. “Ultimately, when we finish, we get to collectively embrace the joy.”
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