Laura Mazur and Jessica Robertson were about halfway through the Pittsburgh Marathon and worrying about finishing last … or finishing at all.
As Today reports, Mazur was at mile 14 and didn’t want to be the last finisher in the marathon. That’s when the 37-year-old woman from Ohio noticed she wasn’t alone.
Running nearby was 30-year-old Robertson. According to NBC News, Robertson was in her first marathon and had just finished FaceTiming her mom about how disappointed she was with her performance.
The two women began talking and instantly connected. Robertson confided in her new friend that she was worried about finishing the race, and Mazur encouraged her.
“You’re fine! I know you’re OK! There’s something in your mind, body and heart telling you you can do this,” Mazur later recalled saying to her.
The two women made a pact to finish the race together. Mazur later wrote on Facebook:
I kept dropping my speed. After mile 14, a racer next to me bowed out to the sweep bus. I looked back to see if I was the last one, and found another racer and a new friend, Jessica Robertson. Sometimes you just find people you click like LEGOS with … and it’s even better when they sing the LEGO song with you.
I told her I’d stay with her if she stayed with me. We stayed together the rest of the 26.2 miles. This was my 12th marathon and her first.
The miles slipped by with the two women encouraging each other. Mazur told NBC News that they got a lot of help from the crowd as well:
“There was great crowd support. You feel like royalty. You feel like a real athlete. It’s super awesome to have people cheer you on.”
With less than a quarter mile to go, Mazur took Robertson’s hand to keep her going to the end.
When the finish line was in sight, Robertson realized that they were no longer holding hands, and yelled for Mazur to grab her hand again.
“She gave me her hand and we crossed the finish line,” Robertson said.
The image of the two new friends crossing the finish line of the marathon, in last place, but hand-in-hand, soon went viral. Race organizers and runners alike said the pair represented what the running community is really about.
Robertson told NBC that she is “in awe” over the photo going viral, but even more emotional about finishing the race:
“I was still wrapping my head around the fact that I accomplished [my] goal, that I crossed the finish line.”
It took more than seven hours for the pair to complete the marathon, and Mazur couldn’t be prouder. She told NBC:
“It was so great that we got everything done and we were still together. We finished what we started.”