Sometimes the running community is really a "community." I see it in little ways all the time. Runners sharing war stories that have a moral or lessen within. People talking about their favorite gadgets or run routes. I've also seen it in bigger ways. Last year, a runner fell on the lakefront path. It was really hot that day, and many thought she had heat stroke. Everyone on the path stopped and ran to make sure she was ok. It turned out that she had tripped and skinned her knee. Until that was clear everyone forgot about their pacing and their chronographs and just focused on making sure their fellow runner was ok.
similar event occurred in Tennessee this weekend, but on a much scarier scale. Near the last mile of an ultra-marathon, a runner on pace to reach his goal gave up on that to save another runner in distress. During the Strolling Jim 40 miler, which is a 41.2 mile race, Chris Estes noticed that a runner was in distress. It was near the 40.2 marker and he noticed that a runner had fallen down the embankment on the side of the road. The runner was unconscious and Estes stayed with him for about 30 minutes until an ambulance could arrive. That time kept him from crossing the finish line in under 7 hours, which was his goal. The race organizer did give him the sub-7 shirt that he clearly earned, even if his finishing time was 7:10.
These are the stories that help to override the frustration I feel at the end of races when the elite and fast runners treat the slow runners with a lack of respect. I know that's not intentional, just a lack of thought and consideration. I know that runners will help each other when it's really needed.