Dead Last, DNF, and What If.


I ran a local Thanksgiving 15K today, and experienced something that I have never had happen before.

I finished last.

Mind you, not last in my division, not at the back of the pack as we all storm the finish line, but DEAD last, not seeing another soul for the last mile, stopping to ask a policeman what direction to the finish line, crossing under the inflatable finish arch as the course volunteers are prepping to take it down.

My feelings on this fact: HELL YEAH.

I beat the goal time that I had set for myself by 7 minutes.

The fact that I was completely and utterly outclassed by the others on the course? That simply means that all the others of my ability or below stayed home or did a shorter distance.

A lot of newbie runners that I talk to are terrified of coming in last or not being able to complete the course, and limit the events they sign up for to what they KNOW they can handle. All they can see is the, in their eyes, public humiliation of being the worst athlete.

News for them: The worst athlete never made it to the course.


Something less than 5% of the US population will run a half-marathon. That falls to 1% for the full marathon. So really, merely lacing up your shoes and stepping into the starting corral puts you at least in the top 10%.

Cross the finish line last? Take pride in knowing that there are thousands of people, with physical abilities equal to yours, that lack the nerve to sign up, step up, and do what you just did.

Failed to make it to the finish line? As H.W. McBride said many years ago, no man is ready to go through a battle until he HAS been through one. Learn from what worked, what didn’t, and come back to hit it twice as hard.

When my time comes and I look back on my life, I will be completely happy with, “I wasn’t the fastest or the strongest, but I got it done.” I will even be able to make peace with, “Failed every damn time, but I gave it all I had.” The one thought that will never sit right is, “I wonder if I could have, if I’d had the nerve to try.”

Go. Embrace the awesome within you and see how far you can take it. Find events that you are not sure you can handle, and go knock them out. Don’t fear failure. We only fall so that we can rise again stronger.

And when you find the scary epic events to go after…Call me. I likely will want to come too.

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