I came in last

Coming in last in a race erases that fear off of my bucket list.

In The Wind

There are a lot of things to be proud of in this life. My most recent thing happened this past weekend in Guernsey at the Duck Daze celebration. So many things went on that day.  Wonderful things. Community things. Family things.

First of all I have to give kudos to the members of the Guernsey Economic & Tourism Development group. They always put on such insightful and delightful activities for the people of Platte County.

The Duck Daze Celebration started off with a fire-quacker of an activity in the Duck Daze 5K. This year, although the day was going head-to-head with the State Fair and numerous golf tournaments and other activities, the town was pleasantly populated.

I actually placed eighth overall in the 5K this year. That’s history for me folks. I’ve never finished in eighth place in any race I’ve ever run in my life. The first race I ever ran was in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the River Bank Run and it was a 25K and I was 23 years younger than I am now. I can remember that I ran that race in 2:22:59. About nine-minute miles.

To run for a continual span of two hours now would cause me to have to get a special permit to run with a motorized scooter.

Eighth place at the Duck Daze 5K. Whew. I was movin’ down the highway! And… I was there to uphold my first-place finish in the over-50 division that I earned in 2020. Well, I didn’t succeed there thanks to a younger and military-skilled athlete, Walt Fink who beat me this year by around two minutes.

By the way, thank you, Walt for finishing and then coming back to look for me, making sure I didn’t have to have a medivac fly me to a trauma center.

But. Eighth place overall. And I got up that morning and realized the temperature was only 45 degrees. One thing you will learn about me is that I am a fair-weather runner. Anything under 60 goes against my internal constitution.

I groggily stepped outside into the frigid tundra, fully clothed with a long sleeve shirt, an Under Armour sweatshirt and a running jacket. I also had a stocking cap in the car just in case. I began to resemble the younger brother in “A Christmas Story” after his mom dressed him for his walk to school.

Now hold your applause until I finish the story. 

Full disclosure… There were only 8 runners who braved the brutally cold temperatures. We were the elite eight. If Noah started the new creation with eight, what could WE accomplish?

Has anyone figured out the math yet? Eight runners. I came in eighth overall. Yep. You got it. I finished dead last. And that really took some doing. Another history maker since I’ve never finished last in a race before.

I worked hard for that. I really carbed up the night before, forcing myself to eat an entire bag of powdered sugar doughnuts. I stayed up really late watching Sports Center. I woke up late and didn’t stretch. I pretty much ensured that I wouldn’t be able to run fast or of any substantial length.

Now, it’s one thing to finish last and know you did it to patronize someone else. This wasn’t one of those times.

I ran as fast as my little lungs could carry me and running 12-minute miles in a fat suit, I am proud to say that I won the last place trophy. A place of distinction. A place of honor. I mean, nobody ever remembers who comes in second-last place.

Plus… I came in second in my division of men over 50. There were two of us. Full disclosure.

I won a rubber duckie for the distinction of “bringing up the rear.”  You know… making sure that everyone made it home safely.

Another honor was to be that one who upheld the motto of “no runner left behind.” It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

I then spent the next hour taking in oxygen and preparing for the duck drop off the north bridge. I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been, but it’s been a hectic summer and a LOT of travel to climates where running was pretty much… taking your life into your own hands. Hold your Arizona jokes.

It was pretty awesome though. Last. I mean. It’s always scared me. What if I finish last? You know what? They cheered for me just as loudly when I crossed the finish line and the good fans of Guernsey made me feel as if I was a winner… even in last place.

I chalked it up to just erasing fears off my bucket list and growing old gracefully. I also now have something to shoot for next year and just maybe I can two-peat on my monumental feat.

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