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So you nervously lined up at the start of a race this weekend eyeing up your competitors, you know for sure you won’t win but for goodness sake don’t let me come last you say to yourself.

Wait…

What do you mean you didn’t even get to the starting line?

Come on, lets put those irrational fears to bed and look at 5 and half reasons why coming dead last in a race isn’t that bad after all.

1. Someone has to come last and you are big enough to take it, you have come this far. Just starting running is brave enough so you sure as hell have the courage to take one for the team this time. You will be saving someone else the embarrassment, besides just use it as a baseline…we all have to start somewhere right?

2. You are just getting your moneys worth. Who wants to spend £20 on less than 20 minutes worth of running? The longer you are out there the more value you are getting out of your race fee. Work out your £ per minute of running a race, and even if the race is a freebie like parkrun is it really worth the half hour drive for a 15 minute run? Hmmmm??

3. Its not so crowded or competitive.  The back end of a race is always the friendlier bit, no pushing or shoving, no jostling for position. No. At the back people smile at each other and check that you are ok and say “good job” and “keep going”. You get to run your own race and take in the surroundings.

4. The crowds are really supportive. People clap and cheer politely when speedy runners whizz past, but when you are right at the back people REALLY cheer and give you heart felt words of encouragement.

5. The finish line team make a real fuss of you. Mainly because they can all go home now, but also because they will have seen everyone else that has come through and know that you have covered exactly the same distance and are just as incredible as the first person to cross the line.

and the half?

Well, take it from me coming last makes for a great story, this whole blog came about as a result of me coming dead last in a race. In this specific race the rest of the field were so much faster than me that by the time I passed the finish line there was no finish line, it had been packed away along with the water station.

You can read the full post here

This catastrophe was in part because I chose a local race that was held by a  serious running club, I should have checked the times from last year to see if it was completely out of my league…the ultra fit looking people at the start line warming up should have been a clue too!!

In all my years of running I have probably only come last 4 or 5 times and never at a big race. But if coming last is still a massive fear for you then these simple tips will hopefully limit the likelihood of it happening.

1. Check if there are any cut off times for the race. These are normally included in the information for races to allow for roads to reopen and to indicate how long it should take you to get round.

2. Check last years results to see the times of the last few runners, if they are not publicly available simply email the race organisers and ask

3. Look out for charity races which tend to attract a more diverse running crowd and more fun runners

4. Run with a supportive partner who doesn’t mind coming last, in the final stretch give it a sprint and take that 2nd from last spot instead

5. Train your backside off to improve your speed, by just a few seconds per mile and this can move you up the field significantly

Finally.

Remember in every single race someone has to come last, do not for a minute underestimate how powerful the image of someone fighting to finish a race is. You may feel embarrassed or upset, or even worry that people might be laughing at you, they will not be and if they do that says more about them than it does you.

Yes, the people who win races are held up there for us all to adore and aspire to, but it is the people who cross the line last that change the hearts and minds of the average person out there and those are the people that count.

I have a saying when it comes to race positioning in marathons

Honour for the elites Pride for the club runners Courage for the fun runners

I think there should be a medal of honour though for the very last person across the line, that display of human spirit is what makes this sport so incredible.

Next time you finish last just think you may have just inspired someone just like you to don their trainers and go for their first run, and that is amazing right?

  1. September 15, 2014

    I’m forever using no. 2 – in fact I gave up orienteering years ago because the drive there was longer than the event.

    I have to admit I keep putting off running at my local parkrun, I have marshalled & unfortunately my local parkrun has 98% at sub 30 & I’m still just over 40. Also a lady (who happens to be my partners ex) who I used to run with & beat 18 months ago, runs there & she’s now significantly faster than me so my pride won’t let me until I get my speed up 🙁 that & the fear if being the only person on the course.

    Like you I also had a course close before I finished, that really knocked my confidence & whilst it hasn’t stopped me signing up for raises it makes me choose them more carefully.

    My first race in 18 months is on Sunday & my main aim is to finish whether I’m last or not 🙂

  2. September 15, 2014

    I came last in my local parkrun, and they were really great to be honest. Lots of cheering and encouragement, and I didn’t feel rubbish at all – I’d made it to parkrun which was an achievement in itself!

    When it came to signing up for a 10k, I checked last year’s results (good advice!), and knew I was unlikely to be the very last (I think I was about 13th from last), but I loved every single second of it. The public cheered a lot, as did other runners that finished, and when I had finished, I cheered on those behind me. Very fond memories of both experiences!

  3. September 15, 2014

    This post has just made me cry.

    I don’t count myself as a runner. I plod. Slowly. But I’ve run a few 10k races and I’ve done ok. I haven’t managed it in under an hour, but they’ve all been under 75 minutes.

    I’m signed up to do a race at the beginning of October. It’s a race I’ve done twice before. I know what to expect. Last time I did it, I was 10th from last. It was fine, I still did it.

    The difference this time is that for the past 12 months I’ve been having treatment for breast cancer. I’ve had three surgeries, chemo and radiotherapy, and I’m a lot heavier now than I was when I came 10th last.

    I was considering pulling out, but a couple of friends have said they will run with me, and after reading your post, I realise you are right. It’s not about being fast, it’s not about beating my pb, this is about just doing it. If I come last, I’ll still have run (and probably walked a bit) exactly the same course as the fella who wins in under 30 mins. And I’ll get a technical t-shirt which I can wear with pride, because when you wear it, no one asks you the time you did it in, they just know that you’ve done it.

    Thank you. x

    • September 15, 2014

      Julie, do let us know how you get on sweetie. You are simlpy amazing so just getting to the start line makes you a huge winner xxxx

      • October 5, 2014

        Hi!
        You asked me to let you know how I got on…
        Well the run was this morning. It was very frosty when we arrived, but we soon warmed up. I lost a couple of running partners due to lack of training, but I had one friend who ran with me the whole was round. We finished in 1:15:07. I am absolutely thrilled to bits with this. And I wasn’t last either…there were at least 30 behind me.
        The best part? The fabulous purple technical t-shirt I got presented with at the end.
        Happy running.

        Julia
        x

        • That is absolutely amazing. I hope this gives you the confidence to stick with it and to set some future goals. Well done xxx

  4. September 15, 2014

    Just completed my 1st half marathon in Belfast yesterday. I was about 12 from last (i think the rest were walkers)

    I had been worrying for weeks after I realised there was a 3 hour time limit on the day.

    By the end of race yesterday i could not have cared less if i was last, i just wanted to finish, which i did in just over 3 hours!! (and i still got my medal

    The roads had been re-opened and we had to use the traffic lights to cross the roads in the centre of Belfast.

    It would not stop me doing it again but i would take the advise above and check for time limits and last years results in future.

    PS: too fat to run??? HELL NO 🙂

    • September 15, 2014

      Well done Carla thats a great time for a first half marathon so well done. How are your legs today?

      • September 15, 2014

        Thanks Julie. Legs not as bad as I expected. If i sit down for any length of time i’m walking like John Wayne when i get up but they soon loosin up 🙂

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  1. […] definitely got a much needed laugh out of 5 and a half reasons why coming in last is okay over at TooFattoRun. I especially like the first point – someone has to be last. It’s […]

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