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There are only two certainties within any kind of running race.

A runner will come first and another will come last.

In some cases there will only be a millisecond in it, perhaps requiring a photo finish and in others there could be an hour or mores wait for the last person to come home.

Who cares? Someone has to come last.

So why is coming last the number one fear among plus sized runners? I know it’s not only overweight runners that fear this, but it seems to be the worst case scenario for many runners carrying extra weight, often a barrier for entering a race in the first place…including even the more informal timed runs such as parkrun.

What is it? Shame, embarrassment, disappointment, frustration? Someone has to bloody well come last.

So in the 100 meter sprint final at the London 2012 Olympics lining up against Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Tyson Gay do we look badly at the person who come in last? Do we even remember who came in last? Well it was Asafa Powell if you must know, the same Asafa Powell who held the 100meter title for 5 years between 2005 and 2008.

Have I ever come last? Many times. Granted never in a big race, but Even at big races I am always towards the back. At my running club I am consistently the back runner. At smaller meets I am often the last home. In fact in one 10k race by the time I finished they had cleared up the finish line and refreshments. On this occasion I run a 10k in 1 hour 18 which I still don’t think is that slow.

Was I crippled by that experience? Not really. I laughed about it then as I do now.

As long as you are trying your hardest and entering (where possible) races within your pace parameters then you should be ok. Just think about all that pressure you put on yourself by stressing about coming last, all that unnecessary worry.

Lets forget about coming last and just enjoy every moment of your race, even if you are last across the line…you’re just making the most of your entry fee!!

  1. June 3, 2014

    Reblogged this on Losing the Fat Girl and commented:
    I love this post and totally agree. I entered my first 5km trail run on Sunday. Now I am still a bit away from actually being able to run for a whole 5km non-stop and it was a train run that included going up and down a sizeable hill with giant steps and a random vertical drop. I knew this going in (well except for the drop that was a surprise) and could have entered the 5km walk instead. But I didn’t, I put on my bill girl panties and entered the run, I was joined by a lovely lady from the Losing the Fat Girl Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/634881956579217/ for anyone who’s interested) and we finished the 5km. On the results sheet I am last, one second behind her lol, but last. Do I care? Nope, couldn’t give a shit. We were only 2 minutes slower than the next runner and we did finish in front of a fair few of the walkers too. I’m so proud of what I did that I couldn’t give a hoot about coming last on paper.
    I entered a run … me running (or sloth like jogging really but it’s still more than a walk). And managed to finish it in what I know is a pretty good time for me considering the course. My mother-in-law gave me a look of pitty when I said I came last and I laughed at her. Who cares? Someone has to come last and at least I was out there doing it. The real losers are those that didn’t even try.

  2. May 27, 2014

    Coming last, not worried. I just think of all the people waiting to cheer me over the line

    • I often think about that, but I have been a volunteer too. If they are not waiting for you they would be doing something else like litter picking or waiting in traffic to get home. I always try to thank as many volunteers as possible as I go round. You are inspiring everyone that are waiting for you so they should be thanking you too!!

  3. December 17, 2013

    Another option is to find fixed TIME rather than fixed DISTANCE races; for instance, my favorite local race is the Delano Park 12 Hour Run. These events are mostly go-as-you-please, you can move and rest at will. Most are held on shorter loop courses that you repeat; Delano Park has a one mile perimeter path. Sure there is a winner and a hierarchy list, recording who ran the most miles down to the least. But once you clear a single loop, there is no worry about a DNF (Did Not Finish) and you are really just competing with yourself and the clock. And the runner who is the last to cross the finish line before the clock runs out, could be anywhere on the Total MIles list. So really no DLF either. Other perks are that no matter how slow you are, there are always other runners nearby, and the aid stations/finish line won’t close down on you. I love these sorts of events!

    • December 17, 2013

      Wow. I have never heard of such events. I will have a look out for some. I suppose this is what I love about track running, once you have been looped once you lose track of where everyone else is and just stick to your own goals

      • December 17, 2013

        I have done timed events of 8, 12, 24, and 48 hours. (6 hours is about the shortest you’ll find) While I am too slow for the cut off times in most 100 mile distance races, doing the 48 hours allowed me the experience of walking over 100 miles! (I made 107 miles actually).
        I’ve known what it’s like to be DFL. And I’ve had the experience of arriving to a lonely empty finish line, (but not in timed events). It did take a number of races for me to make my peace with that, but I have. Someone has to be last, and as long as I’m having fun, it might as well be me!

  4. I have just discovered this blog and love this post. Some of you may not be familiar with Ragen Chastain of Dances with fat, but you might want to check out her post about walking a marathon and all the crap she dealt with. http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/my-big-fat-finished-marathon/

  5. December 4, 2013

    A few things stick in my mind from my first 5k – & the only official run I’ve done. One is hearing the PA announce the number of the woman who came last. While collapsed on the grass & wondering what the heck my body was doing, I found myself coming over all warm & fuzzy & proud of that runner – I was way more impressed with her achievement than that of whatever teenage lad it was who sprinted round & came first.

  6. November 16, 2013

    I don’t mind coming last but I would mind if there’s a big gap between me an everyone else. Especially if the Marshall’s are volunteers, I’d feel bad about them having to stand in the cold for an extra 30 minutes! I have only done a couple of races but I checked previous years results to see what the previous slowest times were and make sure that that wasn’t way out of my league.

  7. November 16, 2013

    The taking part is what counts. Anyway, if its taken you longer you’ve worked harder than all those that came before. Doesn’t that make you better?

  8. I’m usually towards the back of the pack, occasionally last. I kind of get frustrated about it but I am trying.

  9. November 15, 2013

    I’m running my first ever 5k race tomorrow… I’m not sure if it helped or not to read this post :S … but I guess you’re right what does it really matter? As the 10 k starts after me and runs 2 laps I’m hoping that there will at least be 10k runners still out and it won’t be obvious if I’m last. I’m struggling a little bit with the thought of potentially having 2000 odd people fly past me

    • November 15, 2013

      I’ve had races where I felt like I was running backwards as people flew past me. Just remember you are only racing against your own dreams and goals. Hope it goes well x

  10. November 15, 2013

    Really great post. I leave the “coming in first” to others. Like you say, I’m trying my hardest. My goal is finish the race the best that I can. I don’t want to come in last, but I’m also not training to win first place. I want to say “I did it” for the half marathon and then see where I go from there, whether it’s to enjoy life as a 5K Queen or a casual daily runner. I’m just glad to be part of the running community. 🙂

  11. November 15, 2013

    Honestly, having been one of the last people to finish a marathon I can say, it sucks to be last. I’m glad you were able to laugh at the course being broken down by the time you arrived (and yeah, that time isn’t that slow AT ALL). At the time, I was so tired and mentally drained that when I got to the finish line that almost wasn’t there I started to cry. Now I wish I could say “Screw you!” to all of them. I worked just as hard to get to that finish line as everyone else did and it better be there by the time I cross it!

    • November 15, 2013

      To be quite honest I was annoyed at the organisers. They must have known someone was still out on the course as there were marshals and it was a 3 lap course. I don’t think they realise how demotivating it is. And from a health and safety point of view too…there wasn’t even any water available when I finished!!

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