I run as a sport, and I have since 1980. I can’t really explain why, except to say it fills a need in my life. What I’ve discovered about running is its individuality — there are many different reasons to run. Yes, it’s fun to win awards, but most of the time meeting individual goals, from getting into shape to qualifying for the Olympics and everything in between, is the most important aspect. This is true even (especially!) if it’s just finishing a race.
Of course, it’s hard physical activity, and the idea that everyone has to start at the bottom has never been truer. But it’s an honest sport — it’s all up to you, and you get out exactly what you put in. I always tell people the first rule is never to limit yourself; over time, you’ll be amazed at what you can do.
But getting back to just finishing, what prompted this essay is an article in the July 2015 issue of Runner’s World magazine entitled Dead Freakin’ Last…And Proud Of It! In every race, it’s preordained that somebody has to be last. The article contains over a dozen stories of varying lengths about just that outcome, from the runner who was beaten by a little old lady pushing an oxygen cart to the 11-year-old girl who finished last in her first 10K, only to find she’d won her age group (because she was the only one entered) to the unfortunate experiences of elite runners.
The longest time to finish a marathon? How about 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes, and 20.3 seconds! Shizo Kanakuri of Japan dropped out of the 1912 Olympic Marathon in Stockholm, Sweden, but officials weren’t notified. After a journalist found him in 1967, the Swedish National Olympic Committee invited him back to finish, and that is his official time.
Think about that the next time you’re afraid of bringing up the rear.
You can find the Internet edition of this article at http://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/dead-freakin-last-and-proud-of-it