Are you considering running your first marathon or ultra and worried about coming in first, or even just beating another runner? Well, fast forward right past that, because it doesn’t have to happen. Not if you listen to me. This article will address the likelihood, however distant, that you will be last. This is an area in which I excel. I have had three or more last place finishes in each of the previous seven years. With the right training and preparation, or should I say the lack of such, you too can finish last. That is assuming you are not in direct competition with me. After all, I am the master.
There is no steadfast rule to being last, and luck helps. To increase the odds of being last you must first visualize it in your mind. Believe it deeply and know it to be so. Prior to the race go around behind all the runners and look at the back of their heads. If it’s a track run, that’s all you should ever be seeing. If it’s a trail run, you’ll only see them once, and then their heads will slowly shrink, then quickly disappear. In a large group at the start line close your eyes, look skyward, spread your arms like an eagle, and begin chanting out loud. This will give you a lot of starting space and help to size up your competitors. Start slowly and ease off. This is an area where Slugs have a great advantage. They not only preach this philosophy, but they live and breathe it. Be in no rush out of the starting gate. If logistics allow, begin running in the wrong direction. As people yell for you to stop, just wave at them and smile. This most certainly will confuse the race workers and allow you to waste a bit more time.
Finally however you will be forced to start. Pick up the pace ever so slowly. Watch the cutoffs; they are there to give prima donna race directors a chance to discredit the truly slothful. Remember if you get pulled, you will be unable to finish last. This defeats your goal. Maintain constant glacier-like speed throughout the run. Avoid “jack rabbit” starts and screeching stops. Take a break at the aid station. Relax, have a cup of coffee and make faces at the other runners at they roll by. Remove shoes to check for foreign objects. Tiny rocks do bad things to tiny toes. Ask for some Vaseline, and request assistance in placing it on your most delicate parts. Consume mass quantities of fuel and liquid. Instead of grabbing two Oreos, pick up the entire package and gobble them down. Shovel them in and chew. Get that good full feeling going. Remember watering the flora and fauna with blown pretzel chunks and bile is sound ecological policy and earns you bogus points in the standings. Ask the other runners and aid workers lots of meaningless questions. After asking, refuse to listen to their answers. Start humming profusely. Absolutely confuse them with your wit.
Dehydration, boredom, and loneliness are the three biggest obstacles for the mental deficients drawn to running insane distances. Avoid running with friends. Even better, avoid having any friends. After all, you never know where one may appear. It will be hard not to resist picking up the pace during times of high spirits. If you feel good immediately stop running. Begin doing jumping jacks on one leg until you feel dizzy and sick. Then continue running. On the other hand, you will have no trouble going slowly when you feel lousy. And you will. Enjoy it, soak it in, and share your agony with anyone who will listen. Cry, moan, and howl out loud. The more noise you make, and attention you attract the better. On a track run, practice getting in the way of the real runners. If possible trip and fall over at least once an hour. That means in a 24-hour run you should trip at least 24 times. My personal record is 39 falls in 24 hours. Granted, it was raining. On a trail run, enjoy a hobby such as stopping to gaze at wildlife, or turning wayward turtles upside down. Don’t worry someone will put them back.
If someone tries to get behind you, immediately lay down on the ground. I don’t care if you’re at an aid station or not. Just lie down and begin sobbing. Do not move until that runner gets back in front of you. This is your race to lose, your time in the sun. Don’t let some other loser take what’s rightfully yours. Stand up, be proud, and finish last.
In conclusion, and most importantly, please make note of the irrefutable physical fact that it takes the same amount of energy to run slowly as it does to run quickly. This is the law. The Running Law and thou shalt not break it. Do not be concerned with being barred from the event. There are thousands of events. It would take 200 years to get kicked out of all of them. You’ll never live that long.
In my next article, I will share helpful hints for failing in a 100 mile run. Those are going to take a lot more, or less, effort. Work hard on today’s lessons, worst of luck to you, and see you in the loser’s circle.