73-year old John Wilkie recently competed in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon and thanks to the help of two men he had never met before the race, he was able to finish.
The grandfather of 10 and great-grandfather of four was less than half a mile from the finish line when he tripped over a spectator’s stroller. He cut his knees and smashed his face into the ground, causing a trickle of blood to form on his forehead.
“Blood be damned – I was that close to the finish line,” Wilkie said after finishing the race. “I didn’t want to stop and give up, and I didn’t want to lay there either. I wanted to get up and finish the race no matter what it took, and was going to do it one way or another.”
Before he even had time to realize he had fallen, Nathanael Dillard, a fellow runner, and Colin Jackson, who was watching the race, ran to his side and helped him up.
“I didn’t know if he had a concussion or cracked his skull,” Dillard describes. “There was blood everywhere.”
Dillard and Jackson quickly placed their arms around the fallen racer, pulled him to his feet, and proceeded to help him finish the race.
“I was pretty stunned when I hit the ground,” Wilkie said. “Fortunately, those two fellows were there in nothing flat to pick me up. I guess the good Lord was looking out for me. Those two angels came out of nowhere.”
After finishing his eighth half-marathon, he went to the hospital where he received five stitches to close the gash on his forehead.
The great-grandfather’s attitude after the incident was amazing. “That’s the way life is,” says Wilkie. “Every now and then you have a hurdle you have to face and overcome. You’ve got to get up and run some more.”