Found on Competitor.com and written by Don Norcross
No doubt a faint scar will form inches above John Wilkie’s left eyebrow. There will probably be discoloration on his left elbow and left knee as well—battle scars courtesy of the tumble the 73-year-old Wilkie took at Sunday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon.
Wilkie tripped over a spectator’s stroller just shy of the 13-mile mark. Immediately to his rescue came Nathanael Dillard and Colin Jackson. Dillard was running the race, Jackson was spectating.
“I didn’t know if he had a concussion or cracked his skull,” Dillard said. “There was blood everywhere.”
“Nathanael said, ‘You got him?’ I said, ‘Yep.’ Then we aided him to the finish line,” Jackson recalled.
Dillard and Jackson then hooked their arms under Wilkie’s armpits and walked with him across the finish line.
The fall was so violent Wilkie broke his sunglasses and one of his contact lenses.
“I was pretty stunned when I hit the ground,” he said. “Fortunately, those two fellows were there in nothing flat to pick me up. I guess the good Lord was looking out for me. Those two angels came out of nowhere.”
Wilkie was observed in the medical tent after the race and told he’d need stitches to close the gash above his left eye. He went to an emergency room and required five stitches.
As for coming to Wilkie’s aid, Dillard said, “That could have been me.”
Dillard, 38, lives in Spring, Texas, and recently left the Navy as a chief petty officer. “If that had been me,” he said, “I hope somebody would help me out and get me to safety.”
Dillard has run 24 half marathons, four fulls.
“My parents always taught me to just do the right thing,” said Jackson, who lives in San Diego and turns 35 on Thursday.
Jackson began racing three years ago. His motivation was his health. At 6-foot-2, he weighed 286 pounds. “My doctor said if I wanted to see my next birthday, I needed to make a change,” he said.
Jackson’s first race was a marathon. Since then he’s run six Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series events. Today, he weighs 177 pound, and he’s training for his first triathlon, an Ironman in November.
For the 5-foot-6, 145-pound Wilkie, Arizona represented his eighth half marathon.
Wilkie is blessed with 10 grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Brushing himself off and finishing the race served as a life metaphor.
“Life isn’t perfect,” he said. “You get knocked down more than once in a while. You’ve got to get back up and finish what you’re doing.”