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Belfast man Mark Carey praised for stopping to help struggling runner finish in blazing heat of London Marathon

By Cate McCurry

A heroic Belfast runner helped a woman crippled with heat exhaustion cross the finishing line at the London Marathon which saw temperatures peak at a sweltering 24 degrees.

Running coach Mark Carey went to the aid of the woman after he spotted her struggling three miles from the end of the 26.2-mile event.

With the help of another runner, the 40-year-old scooped the woman under his arm and battled the blazing London heat.

He has been hailed as a hero for giving up his last few miles to help the 63-year-old runner from Cheshire.

The humble Beechmount Harriers runner described it as "just one of those things".

He added: "There's a part of the course at 23 miles where you go through a long underground tunnel and as I was going through there I spotted Linda who was running sidewards at that stage.

"It was a matter of taking her under my arm. It was me and another man from England who helped and we got her get over the line.

"At first I don't think she even knew we were helping her she was that far gone but we gave her fluid and she wore my cap.

"We kept reassuring her and she took small steps at a slow pace until the end.

"There was a few times where we had to stop to reassess her and she had to take fluid.

"She was remarkable lady - she was a 63-year-old from Cheshire and that was her third marathon.

"We had to put her on the ground when we all finished."

Mark helped carry the runner to a St John's medical tent where they stayed with her for 40 minutes as medics treated her for heat exhaustion.

He added: "We made contact with her husband and walked to her family to make sure she was okay and in safe hands. He appreciated it. It was one of those things. For me it was only a matter of getting her to the end. She wanted to finish and my race was already gone.

"I was more than happy to help. I couldn't go by without helping her."

Mark, a running coach with Belfast Coolers, added: "We wouldn't have been able to finish the marathon in any other time because of the heat - everyone's times were way off. The plan was to try and run the qualifying time for next year which was three hours and five minutes but that didn't happen.

"No one from our group got the time they wanted. The sun got the better of us."

Sunday was Mark's 21st marathon which he described as the "toughest" despite completing Australia's Gold Coast marathon last June. "You couldn't get over the heat - it's so overpowering," he continued. The scenes in the medical tent were like an accident and emergency ward.

"That was sixth time I've ran in London and I've also ran Belfast, Dublin, Newry and the Gold Coast.

"You have to be sensible with fluid intake and ensure you are drinking water and cooling the body. But you adapt to the conditions.

"Sunday was a bit of a freak in that while we have had hot days before but it was nothing like the weekend.

"We are now planning our next run which is possibly Dublin in October."

Belfast Telegraph

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