It’s just hours since both the media and social media celebrated the selfless behaviour of the Swansea Harriers runner who gave up his race time to help another guy who was clearly struggling in the London Marathon.
Matthew Rees, 29, was shown physically supporting David Wyeth, of Chorlton Runners, whose legs “just crumbled” just 200 yards from the finish line.
A marshal also stepped in, and with the finish completed at a walk, both runners still managed a respectable sub three-hour time.
Thousands of viewers must’ve seen the live footage of the troubled runner, first named by concerned TV commentators as David Wyeth, while he staggered exhausted and jelly-legged and at one point appeared to totally collapse to the ground just off camera.
Maybe this, then, could not have been one of his finest moments?
Rees told reporters he had been preparing to sprint the end of the race, but that helping Wyeth was “more important” than improving on his time.
In a Sky News article he said: “[David Wyeth] was really grateful, but he wasn’t very coherent, he was just like ‘I have to finish, I have to finish’.
“And I said ‘you will finish, you will get there, come on let’s do this’.”
Race organisers Tweeted that Rees “encompassed everything that’s so special about the #LondonMarathon”.
He’s being rightly hailed as a hero – but he’s not the only one.
I’m one of the many runners who won’t be taking part in today’s London Marathon – but that’s for the simple and shockingly straightforward reason that I haven’t entered it!
Consider then, the poor individuals who have – but who’ve had to pull out through injury or illness.
One of my former work colleagues says on FaceBook he’s “gutted” he’s had to sit this one out, but urges other runners “have a great race and soak up the atmosphere”.
But the good news – for those who got in via the ballot – is if you had to withdraw your entry through illness or injury the organisers say they will guarantee you an entry for the 2018 event – as long as you follow these guidelines, that is!
A long convalescence followed, but when I caught up with him this week, Austin was keen to stress than, unlike many of the people featured so far on this blog, he wasn’t worried about missing out on his exercise regime – because he didn’t have one in the first place!
“The thing is, I wasn’t ‘side-lined’. When I had the accident I never did any exercise at all,” he told me, “It was not a part of my life in any way. Of all the things I missed, I didn’t miss exercise.”
He continued: “I was always going to be able to walk again, but I was not sure about running, so I had to push myself,” he said, “When you go through those experiences you have to have something to aim for. It’s months and months of physiotherapy.”
Fast-forward to the 2004 London Marathon and he completed it in four hours 15 minutes and 26 seconds.
But that’s the thing, isn’t it? There’s no “fast-forwarding” in real life – nobody can wish the time away to full recovery.
Austin’s convalescence from such serious injuries was considerably longer and far more arduous than my own, which, though annoying, is trivial in comparison.
So what advice does he have on handling the situation?
“It feels like a very long time, but in retrospect the good thing is you don’t feel that time. It’s very boring when you’re recovering but it quite quickly becomes a memory. It can be difficult and depressing for lots of reasons but it does go away.”
When I spoke to Austin just before the 2004 London Marathon he had no intention of running another one, but other marathons followed, with a three-hour-52-minute personal best in 2007 (“Every time I finished one I said ‘that’s my last one’ – but it becomes more attractive. Each you forget how it hurts!”).
He’s not sure whether the injuries sustained in 2001 still impact on his running now.
His left shin (where pins, now removed, were drilled in to secure an external fixator) swells up on long runs and he has to watch his knees.
Nevertheless, he says he’s “determined” to enjoy the 2015 London Marathon (“I’m not bothered about time, anything between four and four-and-a-half hours will be fine”).