On the morning of the Chicago Marathon, Edward Hensley remembers feeling some “minor pain” in his left thigh. He had the soreness for a while but was determined to do the marathon, his ninth in Chicago, not for time but simply to finish. He told himself, “If this is the way it’s going to be, I’ll be able to manage it.”
He had no idea at that point that the minor pain was actually a fracture in his hip that would get worse until mile 24. He was then forced to make a major decision when an officer asked him if he really wanted it.
He told reporters from his hospital bed, “It [the pain] gradually increased. At about Mile 20, it started to really act up. At Mile 24 I felt something I’ve never felt before in my life and I couldn’t walk anymore.”
That was the point where Hensley’s hip “snapped in half.” He recalls, “The pain was so excruciating.” He immediately sat down. Determined, he tried to stand again but couldn’t. A Chicago Police Officer nearby noticed and helped the injured man to the aid station. Wishing Hensley luck, Officer Joe Siska then went back to work.
Hensley spent the next 40 minutes at the aid tent and suddenly, the officer reappeared. Hensley says, “He said ‘Listen, something in your eyes told me I needed to come back and talk to you. You really want this, don’t you?’” Then came the offer;
“If you need to go, I’ll be with you every step of the way.”
The officer and Hensley set out, hobbling slowly for about a block before they were noticed by probationary Officer Alfredo Martinez who offered to help. Hensley said he made a joke about needing a cane to finish the race. The officers couldn’t find a cane but they did spot a folding chair. “For the next two miles, that chair was my cane,” Hensley said.
The final two miles of the marathon took the three more than an hour. They stopped at every block so Hensley could rest. He said one of the officers told him “We’ll be here as long as you need up for however long it takes.”
As they finally neared the finish, Hensley called his wife to tell her they were about 15 minutes away. “Sure enough,” he said “they made it just in time for us to stop at the fence and say ‘Hi’ and give thanks to the officers. On one leg, I hopped across the finish line.”
Hensley was runner number 42,860 to finish, crossing the line at 6 hours, 47 minutes and 44 seconds. He expressed gratitude for the officers as “they were trying to keep me in [good] spirits.” He says that the company of the two was “something that I could’ve never imagined, in terms of friendship and support.”