Men and Women Running for Others

The Jesuit ethos of Men and Women for Others brought two strangers together in a dramatic end to the London Marathon for Jesuit Missions’ runner Chris Lane.

Chris, a parishioner at Jesuit parish Corpus Christi in Boscombe, had overcome exhaustion to complete the marathon but with a mile to go was on the verge of collapse. Help was at hand from two nearby runners, one of whom happened to be a teacher at Jesuit college Stonyhurst.

Gemma Cornwall, an economics teacher who was running for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as a Type 1 diabetic herself, saw Chris in his Jesuit Missions vest as he was struggling up the home straight. Putting his arm around her she and another runner, also called Chris, carried him over the finish line.

“When I saw the Jesuit Missions vest, I couldn’t just run past and so put being a woman for others into action! He did so well in the end after struggling for so long.” Gemma said after managing to track him down through Facebook. “It just seemed a remarkable coincidence that I, a teacher from a Jesuit school, happened to be in the right place near to a member of a Jesuit parish.”

Chris had started out the race determined to come close to his 2017 Manchester marathon “miracle” time of 4 hours 22 minutes. This was without having factored in the intense heat of the day. In his own words, “the weather was hot at 10 am, hotter still at 10.30 am and then madly hot at noon, followed by manically hot at 2 pm onwards.”

At 13 miles on Tower Bridge, Chris crashed and had to visit the hospital tent where a doctor examined his blood pressure, glucose and heart rate. They gave him permission to continue the race. At 18 miles, he was really struggling and again visited another hospital tent. Here the nurses advised him to stop but, with so many other casualties to attend to, he stubbornly decided to continue with the pain increasing with every step.

He says,

“With 1.5 miles to go a man came up on my left, the direction in which I was leaning, and asked me my name. He replied that he was also called Chris. Then a young woman came up on my right and grabbed my right side.”

“Very kindly, and sacrificing much deserved time, together they carried me home up the Mall. After crying and praying to Jesus to help me for the last six miles (which drew strange looks from spectators and marshals) it was good to finish. I was proud to run for Jesuit Missions, especially because I had bumped into a Priest from Canada running for Jesuit Missions at the start, where we prayed together, and I received a blessing.”

Incredibly Chris was back teaching the next morning and says, “I cannot promise not to do one again, but next time there is no need to chase another personal best!”

Jesuit Missions had a team of 29 runners, amongst the 40, 000 who completed the London marathon on Sunday 22nd April; including a Maltese Jesuit running as a Womble, a sister of the Congregation of Jesus who ran dressed a Nun to raise awareness for Vocations Sunday, a team of ten from Mount St Mary’s Jesuit school, five couples (three of whom ran together), Jesuit Missions staff member Richard Greenwood and Jesuits in Britain staff member Jane Hellings.

You can read our full race report here.

It’s not too late to support Chris. Visit his fundraising page here.

Photo credit: Marathon Foto

Posted on 26th April 2018