Strangers help fellow race-goer cross finish line in ‘surreal’ moment at Cork City Marathon

By Breda Graham

Record numbers of 8,500 race-goers descended on the rebel county yesterday morning to take part in the challenging course of the Cork City Marathon.

The marathon proved a success amongst participants, organisers and volunteers involved in the smooth running of the event.

It was one moment in particular, however, caught on camera, that stood out from the rest and caught people's’ attention.

Philip Gillivan (left) pictured linking a struggling fellow race-goer on approach to the finish line with the help of another man. All three crossed the finish line together. Photo credit: Kieran Minihane.

Photographer Kieran Minihane took a photo of three men crossing the finish line on St Patrick's Street, but there was more to the story than just three men completing the race together.

They were, in fact, all strangers to each other.

In great sportsmanship, two men sacrificed their race times and came to a stranger’s aid, all three crossing the line together.

One of the men pictured giving his assistance was Philip Gillivan, president of the Cork Business Association, who was taking part in the half marathon.

He told the Irish Examiner that he did not know either of the two men and saw them about 300 yards out from the finish line.

"I saw a guy ahead with legs like Bambi. He was like a newborn foal. A guy on the left started linking him so I just jumped in and helped on the other side and the three of us stumbled across the line together,” he said.

Mr Gillivan said he did not know if the man in need of assistance was taking part in the full marathon or half marathon and that he “knew nothing about him”.

There was no hesitation to help the stranger and Mr Gillivan did not second-guess sacrificing his own race time.

"It was just instinctive. It was one of those moments where you make a split second decision. You couldn’t pass the poor fella,” he said.

He said that he never caught the names of either man at the end and had no idea anyone had taken a photograph of the poignant moment between three strangers.

"We didn’t have any words at the end, there was a wheelchair waiting. We just dropped him into the wheelchair and we just went our separate ways and that was the end of it.”

"It was amazing, it was just a surreal moment, like the minute we got to the finish line we just did our own thing.”

Mr Gillivan said that the crowd at the finish line "thought it was an amazing 20 or 30 seconds.”

"I didn’t even realise anybody had taken a picture of it. It was nice to see,” he said.

He sent his well wishes to the man and said that he was “delighted” to see him finish the race.

"I was delighted he got it finished and I hope he’s okay, I’m sure he is,” he said.

Amazing sportsmanship from both men involved and a fantastic finish for the man who didn’t give up and crossed the line. That will win you more than any race ever could.

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