Coming last

I always dreaded coming last, but now that I’ve done it, it’s strangely liberating.

I heard one hot, exhausted lady triathlete utter these words as she came by our drink stop for the last time today.  She’d been overtaken by everyone behind her and she didn’t have the energy to go any faster.  She did indeed come last.

The swim. I didn't have time to take many photos today.
The swim. I didn’t have time to take many photos.  There are people swimming out there trust me,  just under 200!

Launceston Triathlon Club was part of Sprint and Olympic distance triathlon events today at Bridport on the north coast of Tasmania, Australia.  Both Pauly and I aren’t up to these distances so we put our hands up to help out.  Or more truthfully I put my hand up for US to help.  It was an early start even for dairy farmers, we were up at 3:15am to get there to help with some of the setting up.  Then we helped with a drink stop for the run.

It was hot and humid: 30°C and 71%.  The early start was great for the triathletes but that didn’t really mean cool – it was 19°C as we pulled into Bridport at 5:45am.  The cloud cover was pretty wonderful and the water was calm but by the time the slower Olympic distance participants got to the run it was hot and sunny.  They looked so utterly spent and roasting hot.  They had to loop by our drink stop four times to finish the 10km run.

Pauly did actually help but I do like this photo of him sitting drinking coffee while Bruce and Janette are working. He helped Bruce put out all the road signs and then gather them up again so he did his fair share…but he is fun to tease!

Being on a drink stop was an interesting experience and I would encourage every single runner to volunteer for this job if you haven’t done it before.  I’ve volunteered many times at parkrun but never in any other event.  It was hectic!  Laying out cups, filling cups, handing out cups, picking up dirty cups, cheering, clapping, encouraging, providing public leaning post facilities for runners who needed to stretch…. then doing all these jobs over and over and over!  Exhausting!

I’m big on saying thank you to volunteers.  Really big and after today well… let’s just say a monster has been created.  I’ll be saying it way more and way louder!  It was hot, hard work out there today!



Which brings me back to the lady who came last.  I don’t think she’d every come last before and I got the impression from talking to Janette that she was a pretty ok triathlete.  She discovered that there are worse things than coming last.  And don’t I know it.  I often say that last is my signature place.  I’ve been last so many times as well as second last and for quite a while coming third last was my thing.  In fact if I wasn’t coming third last I thought there was something wrong!

Coming last doesn’t hurt.  Failing to get a PB doesn’t hurt.

Not being able to participate hurts.

It hurts hugely.

Participating is the best thing.  In two weeks time I will be lining up for my fourth Super Sprint Triathlon.  I shall be the slow one swimming like there is no rush, riding cautiously to avoid any form of over-exertion or (gasp) sweat and running like I still have a bike seat up my rear end*.  But I shall do it with a smile on my face thanking my lucky stars that I am able to do a baby triathlon.  Last doesn’t hurt, last is good, last means I was there and I did it and I finished.  That in my book makes me a winner.

Yes Dear Exhausted Lady Triathlete, coming last is strangely liberating and I am so incredibly liberated that I may just have to burn my crop top…well maybe not that liberated!  If coming last is a worry that you have, please be buoyed up by the sentiment that I hope comes through this post.  Don’t fear coming last, it doesn’t matter.  Just get out there and have a go.  You won’t know what you can do until you have a go.

Happy running 🙂

PS After volunteering Pauly and I went for a wonderful swim and I’m pleased to say that Pauly’s open water swimming confidence has grown even after one more swim out of the pool.

Super Sprint Distance:  300m, 10km ride, 2.5km run.
Sprint Distance:  750m swim, 20km ride, 5km run.
Olympic Distance:  1.5km swim, 40km ride, 10km run.

*there is video evidence of this from my first triathlon and it is here somewhere on the blog

25 thoughts on “Coming last

  1. This is such a good post Annie, the fear of coming last stops so many of us having a go at things! But as you say, it’s not a failure, it’s a sign of courage and determination to get out there, be brave and have a go!
    I’m hoping to have a go at either the enticer or sprint distance next weekend, but having a few comeback issues, if I do decide to do it, there’s a very strong chance I’ll be last, but hey, what does that actually matter? It will be my first event since March 2016 and that will be reason enough to celebrate 😊
    And volunteering is great isn’t it?

    1. All the best for the triathlon this weekend Sam! I hope those comeback issues just vanish and you can enjoy getting back out there doing what you love. Coming last is a sign of courage and for people who have been so much faster coming back to be slower…well that’s a sign of true courage and love of the sport. And yes volunteering is great and I will certainly be doing a lot more than just parkrun from now on.

  2. Inspiring! As a newbie to running who in a moment of madness committed to running a 10k later this year with my daughters, I was someone who invariably came last in anything ‘sporty’ at school (when it really DID hurt). I’ll remember these words come September when I do my first official “shuffle”.

    1. Oh yes, coming last at school did hurt and so many of us have that pain to drag with us into our first attempts at running as adults. Here’s to a wonderful fun, happy and confident 10kms. Thanks for the lovely comment x And here’s to lots more moments of madness and fun running with your daughters!

  3. I love to see how you and Pauly are always growing and learning. I.e. Pauly’s first open water swim. I’ve never done an open water swim either- struggling as I do in the swimming pool! But we can all take on new challenges. When I read your blog I feel optimistic for the future! Also a little nostalgic for the summer when the sun comes up at 4am and you can go out for a run early doors and enjoy that weak morning light and the silence………If I was really really rich I would buy a house in NZ and spend the UK winter there. Would it be harmful to live a life of perpetual summertime? I suspect that if I could I probably wouldn’t appreciate it as much!!

    1. Oh this is so lovely of you to say Julie, I’m glad the post made you feel optimistic! Oh I love summer. We are having some beautiful warm weather right now. I don’t think that living in perpetual summer would be bad. Chasing the sun and the warmth, sounds perfect to me!

  4. Volunteering at a race is hard work. I would say in some cases it’s harder than doing the event itself … and I’ve done both. Without volunteers, most races simply wouldn’t be able to happen.
    Good work, Annie. Giving support back to your race community is wonderful.

    1. Totally agree with you on all points Joanne. I will be putting my hand up to volunteer a lot more from now on. It was suggested that I could be on the mount/dismount area of the bike course….I must’ve looked worried! I do like the dogs body jobs rather than the official ones! I am a wonderful human cone!!!

  5. oh i know that ‘last’ position so well… but you know what, its not last… its a first for guts, its a first for taking part and its a first for LOVING it and when ‘placing’ or PBing doesn’t matter anymore… yes, the single most liberating thing in the world. I so with you… not taking part is the hard part!
    *mwah* love ya XXX

  6. I have done a fair amount of volunteering and agreed it is hard work. So great that you and Pauly were out there helping. As to being last I am consistently last in our cycling trips. It is absolutely liberating in that there are no expectations. I ride and enjoy being out there. That is definitely the important part. Best of luck with the upcoming race Annie. Still waving the Canadian pom poms over here. xo

    1. Thank you Sue 🙂 The only time I came frist (the handicapped race) there was no one there to celebrate with! I’m so looking forward to Sunday’s event, I’m getting excited about pinning on a race number again! I will think of you right at the Derwent Entertainment Centre where it does get a little tough on the return trip for the half. Unless of course I imagine you on cycles popping up all over the place…hehe….that works. As for volunteering I’m going to be putting up my hand a lot more.

    1. Thanks MIss E. Sam who commented above only learnt to swim a couple of years ago and she’d done two full ironmans. Never say never 🙂 Swimming is the toughest part of a triathlon according to most people I’ve spoken to. This is a beautiful place, that’s for sure. Glad you liked my happy snaps.

  7. If i could manage to finish a triathlon in them temperatures i would be glad just to finish. Great piece.

  8. Well done on your volunteering – it is a great way to be involved and your unique encouragement would make it extra fun. All the best for your next adventure. I’m pleased to be able to say that I’m back out there walking and running now that I’m a retiree I seem to have all the time in the world!

    1. Thanks Debbie 🙂 Enjoy the time to do the things you love. I’m on holidays and going back to work next week. I’m quite content to return (more $ more trips more runs). But I could certainly make a full time job of being home.

      1. I’ve just been for a facial at 10am – because I can do tings like that now and honestly after 3 days of this retirement gig I deserve it!! I also went for a 5km walk with a friend at 6.30am so am feeling virtuous as I slurp on my blueberry smoothie 🙂 Have a good day my friend.

  9. I have come last many a time, there’s no shame in it, if not for the people behind there would be no winners. My greatest fear is not making the cut off and I’ve diced with that death a number of times too.

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