West Belfast runner Mark Carey goes the extra mile to help fellow marathon runner

Mark Carey lends a helping hand
Mairead Holland

A BELFAST runner who slowed down to help a 63 year-old woman during the London Marathon has said he was "just doing the right thing".

Mark Carey was among the thousands of runners who battled sweltering conditions as the race recorded its hottest ever temperatures.

But with just over three miles to the finish line Mark sacrificed his chances of making his target time as he slowed down to help a fellow competitor in distress.

Mark, a member of Beechmount Harriers, who is also secretary of St Paul's GAC in west Belfast, said: "We had got to the last bridge and I noticed this woman who was just about to fall. I got her by the waist and held her up."

The pair ran the final leg of the 26.2-mile race together, with Mark supporting and encouraging her all the way to the finish line.

"She was a really, really tough lady," he said. "I was telling her to slow down, that she was under no pressure but she was determined to finish.

"Once we reached the finishing line, she basically collapsed and myself and another guy and two helpers from St John Ambulance got her to the medical tent in a kind of plastic stretcher."

Fortunately, the woman, who Mark discovered in the course of the run was called Karen and was from Cheshire, recovered quickly and was met in the relatives' tent by her relieved daughter and husband.

Mark had gone to London with around a dozen fellow club runners. A seasoned competitor, Sunday's event was his 20th marathon and his sixth London race, but it was by far his toughest, with the father-of-two describing the sizzling temperatures as "horrendous".

"It was the warmest I've ever run in. I kept topping up with fluids. I had originally aimed for a time of two hours and 55 minutes but the conditions were that bad I decided to go for three hours and five minutes."

In the end, Mark, along with Karen, finished in three hours, 30 minutes - a slower time which, he said, didn't bother him at all.

"I was just doing the right's just my upbringing," he said. "I wanted to help this lady, the final time didn't matter."

His GAC club, meanwhile, took to Twitter to praise his selfless actions, describing Mark as "a man and a half".

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