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8 Inspiring Stories About Runners

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One of the many amazing stories to come out of the Boston Marathon tragedy is that of the blood-donating runners. In case you haven’t read about it, many of the runners finished a grueling 26.2 miles (or close to it), then kept on running to the hospital to give blood, even in their depleted states.

Because we could all use an extra dose of humanity this week, here are eight other feel-good stories about runners.

1. A helping hand

In December 2012, Kenyan Abel Mutai was the first to cross the finish line of a cross-country race in Burlada, Spain. At least, he thought he crossed the finish line. Ivan Fernandez Anaya, a Spanish competitor who was right behind Mutai, knew better. Mutai had pulled up a little short of the finish line, but instead of taking advantage of the situation and plowing right back him, Anaya used gestures to urge Mutai forward to complete his rightful first place finish.

“I didn’t deserve to win it,” Anaya said afterward. “I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner. He created a gap that I couldn’t have closed if he hadn’t made a mistake.”

2. First place finish

Exhausted from a previous race, a high school track star from Ohio was in last place in a 3,200-meter race last year when she saw the competitor in front of her start to fall just a few meters from the finish. Though runners can be disqualified for physically helping other runners, Meghan Vogel put her arm around Arden McMath and helped carry her to the end—even making sure that McMath crossed first. “It's strange to have people telling me that this was such a powerful act of kindness and using words like 'humanity,’” Vogel said. “When I hear words like that I think of Harriet Tubman and saving people's lives. I don't consider myself a hero. I just did what I knew was right and what I was supposed to do.”

3. World's Best Dad

This story is not about a runner doing something nice for someone else, but rather someone doing something touching for a runner. Derek Redmond (above) was just over halfway through a 400m race at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona when his hamstring popped. As the medical staff showed up with a stretcher for them, Redmond waved them away, determined to finish the race. While he limped slowly toward the finish line in incredible pain, his father fought his way down through the stands, leapt over the railing that divided spectators from competitors, and outran security guards trying to chase him down. About 120 meters from the finish, Jim Redmond caught up to his son, put his arms around him and helped him most of the rest of the way. About two steps from the line, Jim let go so Derek could finish on his own. “I'm the proudest father alive," Jim said afterward. "I'm prouder of him than I would have been if he had won the gold medal. It took a lot of guts for him to do what he did."

4. Catch you when you fall

Last month, Michael Stefanon was coming down the final stretch of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Washington, D.C., when he spotted a slower runner ahead of him and thought he could probably pass him. As Stefanon went to pass, the man staggered backward. Stefanon caught him, saying, “We are going to do this together,” and mostly carried the exhausted runner 15 yards to the finish line. The runner, Ryan Gregg, said he was especially grateful for the help because his two young sons were watching him run a marathon for the first time and he didn’t want them to see their dad quitting.

Stefanon was proud of the example he set for his sons as well:

“That experience reminds me of something very similar that I preach to my boys at bedtime when we are saying our prayers,” he told Runner’s World. “We ask that we can be touched in a way that we may help others in need, and put others before ourselves. I feel as though I was the fortunate one in this instance, as my two sons (5 and 8) were able to see the entire event unfold before their eyes.”

5. A marathon of support

When the New York Marathon was canceled last fall due to Hurricane Sandy, many runners regrouped and organized themselves into volunteer squads. Wearing their orange marathon shirts, the runners brought backpacks full of supplies to Staten Island, helped with cleaning efforts and handed out water.

6. Never too late to start

Think you’re too old to start running? Or too out-of-shape? Look to Margaret Hagerty for inspiration. The 90-year-old marathon runner holds the Guinness Record for “oldest person to complete a marathon on each of the seven continents,” which she achieved at the age of 81. Hagerty took up running when she was 64 to try to help her quit smoking. Though she believes that everyone should experience the Great Wall of China Marathon, her personal favorite is the grueling “Arctic Marathon.”

7. I'll Carry You

Then-high school junior Josh Ripley was in the first mile of a two-mile cross-country meet when he heard a fellow runner scream. He found competitor Mark Paulauskas badly bleeding from the ankle and discovered that he had been “spiked,” or injured by someone else’s metal-spiked tracked shoes. Ripley carried the injured runner for half of a mile to get him back to his coach, then went on to finish his race. Paulauskas needed more than 20 stitches.

8. Taking a Stroller

Iram Leon was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in November 2010. Not wanting to give up running or time with his 6-year-old daughter, Leon decided to combine the two. So far, he’s run six marathons while pushing daughter Kiana in a stroller.

Leon and Kiana most recently completed the Gusher Marathon in Texas in three hours, seven minutes and 35 seconds—good enough for a first-place finish.

"This is supposed to eat away at my memory in the end," Leon said. “But I hope this memory is one of the last things to go and one she never loses."

A college fund for Kiana has been started here.

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Pop Culture
5 Bizarre Comic-Con News Stories from Years Past
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At its best, Comic-Con is a friendly place where like-minded people can celebrate their pop culture obsessions, and each other. And no one can make fun of you, no matter how lazy your cosplaying might be. You might think that at its worst, it’s just a series of long lines of costumed fans and small stores crammed into a convention center. But sometimes, throwing together 100,000-plus people from around the world in what feels like a carnival-type atmosphere where anything goes can have less than stellar results. Here are some highlights from past Comic-Con-tastrophes.

1. MAN IN HARRY POTTER T-SHIRT STABS ANOTHER MAN IN THE FACE—WITH A PEN

In 2010, two men waiting for a Comic-Con screening of the Seth Rogen alien comedy Paul got into a very adult argument about whether one of them was sitting too close to the other. Unable to come to a satisfactory conclusion with words, one man stabbed the other in the face with a pen. According to CNN, the attacker was led away wearing handcuffs and a Harry Potter T-shirt. In the aftermath, some Comic-Con attendees dealt with the attack in an oddly fitting way: They cosplayed as the victim, with pens protruding from bloody eye sockets.

2. MEMORABILIA THIEVES INVADE NEW YORK

Since its founding in 2006, New York Comic Con has attracted a few sticky-fingered attendees. In 2010, a man stole several rare comics from vendor Matt Nelson, co-founder of Texas’ Worldwide Comics. Just one of those, Whiz Comics No. 1, was worth $11,000, according to the New York Post. A few years later, in 2014, someone stole a $2000 “Dunny” action figure, which artist Jon-Paul Kaiser had painted during the event for Clutter magazine. And those are just the incidents that involved police; lower-scale cases of toys and comics disappearing from booths are an increasingly frustrating epidemic, according to some. “Comic Con theft is an issue we all sort of ignore,” collector Tracy Isenhour wrote on the blog of his company, Needless Essentials, in 2015. “I am here to tell you no more. It’s time for this garbage to stop."

3. CATWOMAN SAVES THE DAY

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Adrianne Curry, winner of the first cycle of America’s Next Top Model, has made a career of chasing viral fame. Ironically, it was at Comic-Con in 2014 that Curry did something truly worthy of attention—though there wasn’t a camera in sight. Dressed as Catwoman, she was posing with fans alongside her friend Alicia Marie, who was dressed as Tigra. According to a Facebook post Marie wrote at the time, a fan tried to shove his hands into her bikini bottoms. She screamed, the man ran off, and Curry jumped to action. She “literally took off after dude WITH her Catwoman whip and chased him down, beat his a**,” Marie wrote. “Punched him across the face with the butt of her whip—he had zombie blood on his face—got on her costume.”

4. MAN POSES AS FUGITIVE-SEEKING INVESTIGATOR TO GET INTO VIP ROOM

The lines at Comic-Con are legendary, so one Utah man came up with a novel way to try and skip them altogether. In 2015, Jonathon M. Wall tried to get into Salt Lake Comic Con’s exclusive VIP enclave (normally a $10,000 ticket) by claiming he was an agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and needed to get into the VIP room “to catch a fugitive,” according to The San Diego Union Tribune. Not only does that story not even come close to making sense, it also adds up to impersonating a federal agent, a crime to which Wall pleaded guilty in April of this year and which carried a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In June, prosecutors announced that they were planning to reduce his crime from a felony to a misdemeanor.

5. MAN WALKS 645 MILES TO COMIC-CON, DRESSED AS A STORMTROOPER, TO HONOR HIS LATE WIFE

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In 2015, Kevin Doyle walked 645 miles along the California coast to honor his late wife, Eileen. Doyle had met Eileen relatively late in life, when he was in his 50s, and they bonded over their shared love of Star Wars (he even proposed to her while dressed as Darth Vader). However, she died of cancer barely a year after they were married. Adrift and lonely, Doyle decided to honor her memory and their love of Star Wars by walking to Comic-Con—from San Francisco. “I feel like I’m so much better in the healing process than if I’d stayed home,” he told The San Diego Union Tribune.

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Words
10 Pieces of Lying Lingo from Across the United States
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Maligner. Fabricator. Fibber. Con artist. There are all sorts of ways you can say "liar," but in case you're running out, we’ve worked with the editors at the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) to come up with 10 more pieces of lying lingo to add to your storytelling stash.

1. HASSAYAMPA

This term for a liar originally referred to a gold-rusher in Arizona, according to DARE. It can also be used to describe an old-timer, especially one who likes to exaggerate. The word hassayampa (also hassayamper) comes from the Hassayampa River, which is located in the Grand Canyon State. According to the Dictionary of American Folklore, “There was a popular legend that anyone who drank of the Hassayampa River in Arizona would never again tell the truth.”

2. JACOB

“You’re a Jacob!” you might say to a deceiver in eastern Alabama or western Georgia. This word—meaning a liar, a lie, and to lie—might be based on the Bible story of twin brothers Jacob and Esau. Esau, the elder and firstborn, stood to inherit his parents' estate by law. At the behest of his mother, Jacob deceived their father, blinded in old age, into thinking he was Esau and persuaded him to bestow him Esau’s blessing.

3. LIZA

Liza or Liza Jane can mean a lie or a liar. Hence, to lizar means to lie. Like Jacob, Liza is an eastern Alabama and western Georgia term. However, where it comes from isn’t clear. But if we had to guess, we’d say it’s echoic of lies.

4. STORY

“What a story you are,” you might say to a prevaricator in Virginia, eastern Alabama, or western Georgia. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), story, meaning a liar, is mainly used in the phrase, “You story!” Story as a verb meaning “to give a false or malicious account, lie, tattle,” is an English dialect word, according to DARE, and is chiefly used in the South and South Midland states. “You storied to me about getting a drink,” you might tell someone who stood you up.

5. LOAD

To load or load up means to trick, mislead, or “deceive by yarns or windies,” according to cowboy lingo in northwest Texas. The term, which can also be a noun meaning a lie or liar, might also be heard in northwest Arkansas and the Ozarks.

6. YARN

To spin a yarn, or to tell a long tale, began as nautical slang, according to the OED, and comes from the idea of telling stories while doing seated work such as yarn-twisting. (The word yarn comes from the Old English gearn, meaning "spun fiber, spun wool.") By extension, a yarn is a sometimes marvelous or incredible story or tale, and to yarn means to tell a story or chat. In some parts of the U.S., such as Arkansas, Indiana, Maryland, and Tennessee, to yarn means to lie or tell a falsehood. “Don’t yarn to me!” you might say. Street yarn refers to gossip in New York, Kentucky, and parts of New England.

7. WINDY

Telling a windy in the West? You’re telling an “extravagantly exaggerated or boastful story,” a tall tale, or a lie, says DARE. Wind has meant “vain imagination or conceit” since the 15th century, says OED.

8. LIE

In addition to being a falsehood or tall tale, a lie in the South and South Midland states can refer to the liar himself.

9. STRETCH THE BLANKET

You’ve probably heard of stretching the truth. How about stretching the blanket? This phrase meaning to lie or exaggerate is especially used in the South Midland states. To split the blanket, by the way, is a term in the South, South Midland, and West meaning to get divorced, while being born on the wrong side of the blanket means being born out of wedlock, at least in Indiana and Ohio.

10. WHACK

In the South and South Midland, whack refers to a lie or the act of lying. It might come from the British English colloquial term whacker, meaning anything abnormally large, especially a “thumping lie” or “whopper,” according to the OED. In case you were wondering, wack, as in “crack is wack,” is probably a back-formation from wacky meaning crazy or odd, also according to the OED. Wacky comes from whack, a blow or hit, maybe from the idea of being hit in the head too many times.

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