Minnesota high school junior Tierney Winter knew freshman Jessica Christoffer was struggling as she lagged about five meters behind her during the Class A State Cross Country Championships.
Then Winter caught a glimpse of Christoffer stumbling and falling.
But instead of continuing Saturday's race — the finish line was within sight — Winter stopped, turned around, got next to Christoffer, and helped her stand up.
“I was just saying, ‘Come on, let’s go, you can finish! You are almost there!’” Winter told the Fairibault Daily News.
Christoffer was in no shape to continue, however. So Winter put her left arm around the exhausted runner, and the pair soldiered forward.
Then a senior runner Kailee Kiminski joined them, positioning herself on Christoffer's left side and linking arms with her — and the trio, none of whom knew each other before that moment, jogged the rest of the homestretch as one unit.
“(Christoffer) was still running kind of,” Winter told the Daily News, “but she put both arms around us.”
"I just got tired and I fell, and it wasn't good, and then there were two girls that helped me...helped me finish and it was really nice of them," Christoffer told KEYC-TV. "I'm really thankful for them. It means a lot to me. It means I accomplished my goal of running at state and doing well."
But after they finally crossed the finish line, not everybody was cheering. In fact, all three of their numbers were taken down, the Daily News said. And then the big blow: All three were disqualified for interfering with a runner, KEYC reported.
It apparently was no big deal to Winter. After finishing seventh at last year's meet, she came into this weekend's contest battling a knee injury and guessed she was looking at a finish between 30th and 40th place when she stopped to help Christoffer.
“I wasn’t exactly in the run for getting second or third,” she told the Daily News. “But I still probably would have done it. It’s a runners’ bond. It’s so hard to get (to state). I couldn’t leave her there.”
Winter got heaps of praise on her Twitter account:
“I’m just so surprised how many people said something to me after my race," Winter added to the Daily News. "I hope people understand how much we care about each other as athletes.”