It's the sort of thing that's straight out of an episode of a show entirely too earnest for network TV: an Ohio high school track star, mere feet from finishing her second race at the state meet, sees a runner in front of her fall. But rather than pass her and speed to the finish line, she stops, picks up her struggling rival, and helps her get to the finish line. Cue a waterfall of tears and the bitter realization that, at our core, we're a nation of jerks crapping on the future of our children who are helping each other finish high school races oh my god what are we doing!? What are we doing?
There's no two ways about it— rising high school senior Megan Vogel is a class act. But in addition to being a class act, she's a hell of an athlete. During Ohio's state meet on Saturday, the West Liberty-Salem High School student won the 1600 meter race with a scorching personal best of 4:58.31 and then, an hour later, lined up to run the 3200 meter race. According to ESPN, she'd pretty much shot her wad during her first race and ended up falling off the pace (which I'm sure was still ridiculous, because the girl had just run a mile in under five minutes holy crap) and fell into last place. With the finish line in site, the only girl ahead of her, Arlington High School sophomore Arden McMath, collapsed.
But Megan Vogel isn't your standard run-of-the-mill asshole like most people. Rather than keep on running, she stopped, took McMath by the arm, and helped the girl to the finish line, where she made sure McMath crossed first.
Ann Vogel, Megan's mother and coach, was across the track and at the time her daughter stopped to help McMath, and didn't see what was happening until a fellow spectator told her to look up at the jumbotron. She told ESPN that when she saw her daughter supporting her fallen competitor, she ran as fast as she could to the other side of the track, and everyone was crying and she was crying because she was so proud of her daughter finishing in 15th place.
Oh my god, my eyes are leaking.
Say what you will about how running is awful and painful and not-fun (I mean I love it, but that's only after like 25 years of not loving it at all), but distance runners are the most relentlessly positive, nice people you could spend time around, and they're constantly encouraging each other. During one particularly difficult training run before my first marathon (an organized 20 miler involving hundreds of runners), I remember being in so much pain and feeling so discouraged that I stopped running around mile 16 and started crying like a big dummy. I was never going to finish the marathon — NEVER! A guy around my age who was running on the path behind me caught up and told me to start running with him, that I was almost there, that I could do it, and he stayed with me until the 19th mile marker and then sped ahead. After I finished, I saw him stretching out and we waved at each other, and that was the extent of our interaction. Runners are seriously the best.
Video of Vogel and McMath has gone viral, and Vogel's a little bewildered by the whole thing. "I don't consider myself a hero. I just did what I knew was right and what I was supposed to do," she said.