Monday 18 November 2019

This is what the guy who helped a fellow London Marathon runner over the finish line had to say

By Jessica Pitocchi

He showed true sportsmanship.

A runner who sacrificed his London Marathon race time to help carry a struggling athlete over the finishing line has won the hearts of the nation for his touching display of sportsmanship.

Matthew Rees, a 29-year-old runner for the Swansea Harriers running club, spotted the staggering racer, believed to be called David Wyeth, as the pair got onto the final stretch of the Mall.

Rees then put the runner’s arm around his neck and hauled him to the end of the 26.2-mile course, staying with him even when a marathon volunteer came to assist them.

Rees said after the race: “I took the final corner thinking ‘right, it’s nearly done, time to sprint’, and I saw this guy and his legs just crumbled below him.

“I saw him try to stand up again and his legs just went down again, and I thought ‘this is more important, getting him across the line is more important than shaving a few seconds off my time’.

“I went over to try and help him and every time he tried to get up he just fell down again and again, so I just tried to cheer him on, picked him up and said: ‘Come on, we can do this’.

“He was really grateful, but he wasn’t very coherent, he was just like ‘I have to finish, I have to finish’ and I said ‘you will finish, you will get there, come on let’s do this’, but every time he tried to move he would just fall again so it was important to guide him.”

Both men were on course to finish the race in under two hours but Rees, who was running his second marathon in a month, had encountered some issues with his leg which slowed down his initial time.

“My calf started to cramp really early on, so I just decided ‘right I’ve just got to make it to the finish line’ and so when I saw the guy on the floor it sort of brought the feelings I’d had the whole marathon to me,” he said.

“I wanted just to get to finishing line and that’s all he wanted – so we could just do it together.

“We’ve got the exact same emotions but in different ways, he can’t walk and I have just had an awful race, I just want to get to the finish line and so does he.

“This is what the marathon is about – it’s about people – it’s for everyone. Moments like this make it worth it. I’m just glad he’s okay.”

The pair separated after crossing the line and Wyeth, who was said to be running in memory of his uncle, was taken away for medical treatment.

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