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Senior helps fellow runner win marathon, receives worldwide recognition

Senior Ariana Luterman gained recognition and inspired many people around the world when she helped runner Chandler Self by pushing her over the finish line, bringing her to her second marathon victory at the BMW Dallas Marathon on December 10. 

The goal is for the high school relay runners to catch up to the elite runners and to help pace them or maybe try to beat them. In the home stretch, Ariana noticed elite runner Chandler Self go down multiple times as her legs buckled. Ariana inspired many people around the world when she chose to help the elite runner-up, and assist her across the finish line. Because of this, Chandler was the winner of the BMW Dallas Marathon.

“When I got the handoff, we were only about 50 meters behind Chandler, so I was really shocked. Of course, I sprinted as hard as I could to catch up to her,” Ariana said.

When Ariana caught up with her, she took the chance to talk to the elite runner and help pace her.

“I said, ‘ I’m not supposed to this, but I’m going to help pace you to win.’ She said ‘okay,’ with a bit of confusion.”

Then, about 800 meters from the finish line, Ariana noticed that Chandler fell down once, and then more times as they got closer to the finish line.

“The first time she went down, I thought she had just tripped because she got back up and everything was fine, but then she went down again, and again, and again, and again,” said Ariana. “At that point, we were about 10 or 15 meters from the finish line, and she went down hard. She did not look like she was going to get back up.”

Ariana was then able to help Chandler up, and push her across the finish line.

“I wanted her to win because I ran two miles, and she ran a marathon. She deserved that win. All I thought in that moment was ‘I have to do something. I can’t just stand there and not do something,’” Ariana said.

In the next week, people around the globe started to contact her to set up interviews, congratulate her, or feature her on magazines and TV channels.

“I was really shocked and confused,” she said. “That night I got a bunch of calls from people looking to set up an interview. I even got a call from India and was on the cover of a Malaysian paper… It was really cool to see what an impact this had on everyone’s eyes.”

One phone call from a mother who lives in the United Kingdom stood out to her. According to Ariana, the mom said that she had two daughters who watched Ariana on the news. The segment inspired a conversation on kindness and inspired her children to be like Ariana.

“Just reading that from someone who literally lives in the UK like a million miles away from here and how I had touched their lives was such an incredible thing to hear,” Ariana said.

However, Ariana wants to stress that anybody else would have done the same thing.

“I’m not special, I’m just extremely lucky that I was put in that position, and that I got to run next to her. If I had been 5 minutes behind, who knows what could have happened,” she said.

Story by Raag Venkat, Sarah Luan, and Lane Herbert

Photo courtesy of Ariana Luterman

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