Marathon runner Laura Wellington was half a mile away from finishing the 26-mile Boston marathon when two blasts exploded near the finish line where she had planned to meet her family and boyfriend. Directed away from the area by police, Wellington kept trying to call her family and boyfriend to tell them she was okay and to find out where they were. Having not crossed the finish line, Wellington was unable to receive a medal for her participation in the race according to marathon rules.
Finally able to get in touch with her family, Wellington sat down and cried with relief upon hearing the familiar voice of her boyfriend. It was then that she was approached by a couple from the race. The woman took the space tent off her husband and wrapped it around Wellington and asked if she was okay and knew where her family was. Reassuring them that her family was safe and on their way, Wellington was asked by the husband — a fellow runner in the race — if she had been able to cross the finish line.
“He then proceeded to take the medal off from around his neck and placed it around mine. He told me ‘You are a finisher in my eyes.’ I was barely able to choke out a ‘thank you’ between tears,'” Wellington writes in a Facebook post.
Determined to find and thank the couple that brought her such comfort in a time of devastation and chaos, Wellington posted her story on Facebook asking others to help in her search. “Odds are I will never see this couple again, but I’m reaching out with the slim chance that I will be able to express to them just what this gesture meant to me,” writes Wellington. “I was so in need of a familiar face at that point in time. This couple reassured me that even though such a terrible thing had happened, everything was going to be okay.”
Since posting on Tuesday, Wellington’s story has been shared over 198 thousand times, and with the help of the online community, she was reunited with fellow runner Brent Cunningham from Sitka, Alaska. Talking with KTUU-TV in Anchorage, Cunningham shared his side of the story, stating that he heard the blasts five minutes after finishing the race. Walking with his family back to their hotel, Cunningham saw Wellington crying on a bench and wanted to reach out to her. “I just wanted to let her know she was amazing. I said, ‘You’re a finisher in my eyes.’ That was that,” Cunningham says in an interview with The Star. “She was so emotional she couldn’t talk. And I’ve been emotional about it at least five times since then.”
The bombing in Boston on Monday killed three people and injured over 170 runners and bystanders. As of this morning it has been reported that Boston is in lockdown as the manhunt for the final bombing suspect continues.
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