When a high school runner saw one of her competitors struggling and repeatedly collapsing near the finish line during a recent meet, she stopped, helped the girl to her feet and proceeded to guide her through the remainder of the race.
The act of compassion got both girls disqualified — as no runner is permitted to touch another person during the race — but the kind gesture has attracted a multitude of attention.
It all unfolded when eighth-grader Gracie Bucher was competing in Luverne, Minnesota, in an effort to qualify for a state cross country meet when she began falling behind, staggering and repeatedly collapsing before the finish line, KARE-TV reported.
“I realized I was falling behind. ‘I’m not wanting this hard enough, I have to keep fighting for it,'” she told the outlet, explaining what was going through her head at the time.
But despite pressing on, she simply kept falling to the ground, as she slowly inched toward the finish line. Her parents as well as spectators looked on with nervousness, as people implored her to simply crawl to the finish; it was a harrowing scene.
That’s when fellow runner Liana Blomgren, a senior from another school, noticed Bucher stumbling as she ran up behind her, and promptly took action, bending down to help Bucher to her feet and then supporting her to the finish line.
“I knew she wasn’t going to get to the finish line by herself and I knew that she needed somebody and nobody else was there for her,” Blomgren told KARE-TV.
In the end, both girls were disqualified, but that hasn’t stopped people from praising kind act — and it has led Bucher, who was diagnosed with mononucleosis after her parents took her to the emergency room after the run — to express her gratitude.
“She was definitely a miracle for me,” Bucher said. “There’s nothing better than that. She was like my angel that day.”
Watch Kare11-10PM news tonight! There will be on a story on Mtn. Lake's Liana Blomgren showing true sportsmanship to Windom's Gracie Bucher! pic.twitter.com/x64G0Ui9Lq
— Windom Eagles (@WindomEagles) November 29, 2016
As for Blomgren, she has no regrets about her decision.
“I don’t remember what place I was in the section meet last year. I don’t remember what place I was in the section meet the year before that,” she said. “But I know I’m going to remember this.”
Starting next year, the rules will change so that runners who stop to help competitors won’t be penalized, so long as emergency services aren’t available on-site.
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