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Willie Geist shares video of Michael J. Fox hug that boosted him during marathon

Fox's embrace at the race's 24-mile mark gave the Sunday TODAY host "the juice" to cross the finish line.
/ Source: TODAY

An encouraging hug from actor Michael J. Fox helped Willie Geist cross the finish line at the New York City Marathon on Sunday.

The "Back to the Future" star popped out of the crowd at the race's 24-mile mark to cheer on the Sunday TODAY host, who was running to raise funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

"As I chugged up 5th Avenue's notorious 24th mile, running on fumes to raise money for the @MichaelJFoxOrg, I spotted the man himself. Yes, @RealMikeJFox, @Tracy.Pollan, and the Fox Foundation family stepped out to greet me," Willie wrote next to a video he shared Monday on Instagram.

The short clip shows Willie spotting Fox on the sidelines and then running over to him for an embrace. The Sunday TODAY host then returns to the marathon to finish its 26.2-mile route.

"That sweaty hug (sorry, Mike) gave me the juice to hit the gas and finish my first marathon in 3:58. And no, that is not sweat I'm wiping from the corner of my eye. Thank you, Michael and Tracy!" added Willie, referring to Fox's wife, Tracy Pollan.

Willie also included a link in his Instagram bio for fans to contribute to Fox's organization, which raises money for Parkinson's disease research. Both Fox and Willie's dad, TV journalist and author Bill Geist, were diagnosed with Parkinson's decades ago.

Fox expressed his gratitude in the comments of Willie's post.

"Willie, once again, thank you for being one of the leaders in the race for a cure for Parkinson’s. You weren’t gross or sweaty, you were super cool," wrote the Emmy winner.

Sweet as Fox's hug was, it wasn't the the only one Willie received during the marathon.

NBC News senior business correspondent Stephanie Ruhle shared a video of herself on Instagram that showed her climbing over one of the marathon's barricades to give her colleague a hug as he ran.

Willie had trained to run the New York City Marathon in honor of his father. He and his wife, Christina, had planned to run the marathon in 2020, but the event was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Due to last year's cancellation, Willie decided to run his own half-marathon and raised more than $75,000 for Fox's organization. This year he raised $400,000.

Willie told TODAY last week that he was excited to finally get the chance to participate in the official marathon.

"It's a giant outdoor party for millions of people whose only plan for the day is to have a bloody mary and to will runners through those 26.2 miles through the city," he said. "I've watched from the sidewalk many times and honestly never seriously dreamed of being inside those railings as a runner."

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