Ariana Luterman's Moment Of Generosity At The Dallas Marathon: 'It Was An Instinct'

By Tuesday, Ariana Luterman had been interviewed at least nine times by media outlets from all over the country, including those inside and outside the state of Texas.

She had picked up national recognition after helping Chandler Self, 32, to the line of the Dallas Marathon on Sunday following an agonizing final 100 meters which saw the New York resident, the women's overall winner in 2:53.57, fall numerous times until the finish. 

After a few days of reflection, Luterman, a senior at Dallas Greenhill School who was running in a 13-person high school relay -- in which she was the anchor leg -- said she never questioned her decision to help Self, even if it meant disqualifying the runner from a marathon win. 

"I did not even second-guess it," Luterman said Tuesday. "I immediately just went to help her. It was an instinct." 

Self, of course, did not get disqualified. The Dallas Marathon executive director later consulted with a committee and determined Luterman's assistance was a "gray zone" which did not impact or influence the race. 

And so, as these things happen, Luterman became the story, too. 

Outlets like CBS News, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Fox News, The Desert News, and AOL picked up the story, with various headlines declaring Self's march to the finish "heroic" and Luterman's assistance "big-hearted." 

But still, a few days later, Luterman wanted to make sure that the moment wasn't about her. She didn't even see it as such. 

"I'm not really special," Luterman said. "That's something any one of the 25 relay runners would have done in that situation. You see someone go down and you don't have to know them -- you just do it." 

Needless to say, Luterman has been receiving kudos anyway.

"A lot of people have said to me that 'this is a defining moment for you and your character and your life,'" she said. "But to be honest, this doesn't define me at all. It really just proves to people that it's so easy to make a difference in someone else's life. It's as easy as picking up someone when they are down." 

Smartly put. It wouldn't be a gamble to think Luterman is headed for successful ventures down the road. The 17-year-old started her own nonprofit at the age of 12, she said, to raise funds for Vogel Alcove, another nonprofit in Dallas which provides free day care and early childhood education to homeless children. 

Self described her as "wise beyond her years" after the marathon. 

But Luterman is still a teenager, too, with a birthday on Christmas day. She runs cross country, swims, and competes in track and field at Greenhill School. She's earned career bests of 2:27.12 in the 800m and 5:37.12 in the 1600m -- though she said she's raced the mile in 5:06 as an overall PR.  She also loves competing in sprint triathlons and likely will follow that passion in some capacity in the future. 

Track won't follow her to college. She says she's planning to focus on an academics. 

But running is a passion, and in Dallas she was completing the final 2.2 miles of the marathon for the relay. It was her third straight year running with high school runners. 

As fate would have it, Self passed Luterman's transition station just a few seconds before the senior headed off on her own. 

Luterman soon caught up to the marathoner and the pair "were running shoulder to shoulder" much of the way from there.  

It was then, Luterman remembered, that she told Self, "'I'm going to pace you. You're going to get the gold." 

Self told the Dallas Morning News later, "You know what else she said? She told me, 'You deserve this.' And I thought, 'Wow.'" 

What's interesting, though, is that Luterman never saw Self again. The duo's fight to the finish lasted all of 60 or so seconds. 

Self crossed the line and then was wheeled away. Luterman went over to her parents. 

"We actually never spoke," Luterman said.

Special or not, there's at least one thing thats true: It was a once-in-a-lifetime encounter.