Strangers to reunite following ‘surreal’ moment at finish line of Cork City Marathon

It was a moment that stood out from the rest and caught people's’ attention.

Strangers to reunite following ‘surreal’ moment at finish line of Cork City Marathon

By Breda Graham

Record numbers of 8,500 race-goers descended on the Rebel County to take part in the challenging course of the Cork City Marathon on Sunday morning.

Among the participants, it was three in particular, and one special moment captured on camera, that caught people’s attention.

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.

In a great show of sportsmanship, two men sacrificed their race times and came to the aid of a fellow race-goer, all three crossing the line together.

Neither of the men, who the Irish Examiner can now name as Philip Gillivan pictured left and Owen Lynch pictured right, realised that a photograph of the moment had been taken until it was spotted on Twitter.

The three are now planning a get-together over lunch at The Shelbourne Bar after connecting on the social platform.

Philip Gillivan, president of the Cork Business Association, was taking part in the half marathon on the day.

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.

There was no hesitation to help the stranger and Mr Gillivan who sacrificed his own race time said it was an “instinctive” decision.

“It was one of those moments where you make a split second decision,” he said.

“It was just a surreal moment, like the minute we got to the finish line we just did our own thing,” he said.

Mr Gillivan had launched an appeal on Twitter to find the two men in the hope to be reunited with them.

The second man pictured on the right of the photo, Owen Lynch, told the Irish Examiner that he is, in fact, a friend and colleague of the man pictured in the photograph and that they had been training together in the run-up to the marathon.

He explained that it was the heat and dehydration that went against his friend on the day.

“We do a fair few races over the year and we train every Saturday.

“We had done the Cork to Carrigaline marathon a couple of weeks ago. That was 25k and we did that no bother.

“I think it was just dehydration mores than anything. We were fine until mile 25. We had a bit of water and then he took off ahead of me. I caught up with him by North Gate Bridge and he was slowing down so we linked together there and walked for a bit.

“Then some of the crowd started throwing bottles of water to us and we drank that. He then fell over and someone poured a bottle of water on top of him.

“Someone else gave me a hand keeping him up as far as Washington Street but when we came from Washington Street he was running on his own again.

“Then Philip came along and took him for the last 200 metres with me.”

Mr Lynch said that his friend was taken to the doctors tent and released at about four in the evening.

“He was fine, I was talking to him afterwards and he was back chatting away, thank god.”

He said that the atmosphere and support from people on the day was unforgettable.

“There was people out hosing us down to cool us off out by The Lough and on Model Farm Road. Random people just walking out from their front garden hosing us down. They were there for hours and you’re kind of relying on them to keep you cool.

“The biggest thing at the end of this for me was the noise from the crowd. I just remember people shouting our names and it was the best thing ever.

“It’s definitely one of the better ones [marathons] with the amount of water stops that are there and the general support.”

His friend, who preferred not to comment or to be named, could not remember the last leg of the race but is “doing well”, Mr Lynch assured.

“He cannot remember the end of the race or remember meeting Philip.

“The important thing is he is now fully recovered and is doing fine,” he said.

Race Director, Tim O’Donovan, said that the moment between the three men showcased the true spirit of the marathon.

“It epitomizes the spirit of the race that two runners would help one another cross the line.

“It is more than a marathon, that has been our tagline for the last couple of years.

“While you have the competitive side of the marathon with participants going for their personal best, you have great comradery among everybody.

“For 90% of people it is about taking part and getting through it. The achievement of completing the race is a big thing for people,” he said.

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