NI firefighter goes viral after helping exhausted runner over finishing line

Image supplied by NIFRS
Image supplied by NIFRS

A marathon runner from Omagh has inspired a global audience with an act of selflessness during the Boston Marathon.

Around a million people online have watched firefighter Terry Canning help an exhausted competitor across the finish line.

He stopped to help New Jersey runner Julianne Bowe stay on her feet, along with a Chilean marathon runner, but when it became clear she could no longer stand due to the exhaustion, Terry lifted the female runner into his arms to help her complete the race.

Mr Canning’s act of selflessness was caught on camera and, after being posted online by a French athletics blog, has now been viewed around one million times.

Terry is chairman of the Omagh Harriers athletics club and was competing in the Boston Marathon to raise money for the Enda Dolan Foundation, a charity established after the 18-year-old athletics club member’s death in October 2014. Enda was knocked down and killed by a drunk driver on the Malone Road in Belfast.

Enda’s father, Peter, paid tribute to Terry Canning’s character after the video of his selfless act during the Boston Marathon went viral.

“That’s just the kind of him,” Peter said. “That’s just his nature. Seeing that video is just inspirational.

“At that stage, when you’re running in an international event like the Boston Marathon you’re there to get the best time you can, especially when you’re running at Terry’s level. So for him to stop, slow down, and pick somebody up, is just first class.

“It was good to see him wearing the Enda Dolan Foundation T-shirt.”

Speaking to the BBC, Terry said: “We tried to make her walk with assistance, but it was just too much for her. So we picked her up and carried her some distance.”

He added: “Helping others comes as a natural instinct to me whether it be through the fire service, running club or home life.”