The Kindness of Strangers Matters More Than We Realize

Especially after taking a fall at a marathon!

Merre Larkin
5 min readSep 3, 2023
Words in chalk on pavement: “YOU GOT THIS”
Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

I was running the New York City Marathon for the second time. I’d performed well my first time, although not quite the sub-3:30 I’d hoped for. This second time, though, I was coming back from a series of injuries and hoping to qualify for my third Boston (a sub-4:00).

The NYC Marathon is normally held the first weekend in November. You never quite know how the weather will be. Sometimes it’s temperate, sometimes it’s not. In 2008, when I was running the marathon the second time, it was bitter cold, colder than I’d expected and was dressed for.

Since I was a faster runner than the rabble of participants who make up the marathon’s majority, I was assigned to a corral towards the front, with an earlier start time. However, it was so cold that I waited with a few other runners whom I’d just met, talking to pass the time more quickly. Usually I preferred solitude, focusing on my game plan.

After missing important announcements being made, I ended up in the wrong corral. I was furious that I had to start further back than I was trained for, and my fury threw me off my game. As the miles went by, though, I settled into a rhythm and was doing okay time-wise.



Merre Larkin

Writer of nonfiction (memoir, essays), fiction, and poetry. Life/writing coach. Educator. Marathoner. Avid reader. Here to share, here to learn.