The Casual Runner

Run To the Finish

I am currently enjoying an extended Fourth of July Holiday with my family on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

IMG_5858The best part about sharing a large condo with my family is getting to spend some quality time with 4 of my 5 nephews. My oldest nephew is 6 and he LOVES sports. Absolutely loves them, as in, he cannot get enough sports. For him, it is all sports, all the time.

He and I spent part of Sunday morning (after I finished my training run on the beach of course) together on the beach tossing around the football in the surf.  As kids who watch too much Sportscenter always do, he was busy hotdogging it, trying to make one-handed circus catches before he mastered the art of catching the ball two-handed. I tried teaching him that he has to learn the fundamentals and make sure he catches the ball before he can start focusing on his highlight real for the college scouts. He assured me that his way is far more fun.

When my nephew sufficiently wore me out and we came back up to the condo for some lunch and rest, I fired up my computer and checked some email. I found that several of our Casual Runner readers wrote in to see if we had heard what happened at the finish of the Peachtree Road Race. Now, for those of you who took our trivia challenge, you know that this is a 10k road race in Atlanta, Georgia that claims the title of the largest annual running event in the United States.

IMG_5969The 2015 event became somewhat infamous as Scott Overall, who represented Great Britain in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, won the men’s open division by the closest margin in history: 9/100ths of a second.  It took race officials more than an hour to declare Overall the winner as they eventually determined that he ever-so-slightly edged out Ben Payne of the United States.

What makes this finish even more compelling is how Overall managed to beat Payne.  You see, photographs at the finish show that Payne may have been celebrating his imminent victory just prior to crossing the finish line.  According to reports in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, although Payne denies that he began an early celebration, Payne “had his left arm and left index finger pointed to the sky, at the finish line.” Overall stated that he believes that Payne was in fact celebrating at the finish, which allowed him to pass him at the end and clinch the narrowest of victories.

Reserve - Mike - 2014 Pitt Half Race Review Pic FNow look, most Casual Runners will never, ever be in a position to compete for a victory at any race, so we have no way of knowing just what the emotions of such a moment may be like.  We are also not suggesting that this incident will go down in the annals of sports history like Leon Lett fumbling away a sure-thing touchdown in the Super Bowl against the Buffalo Bills or Lindsey Jacobellis costing herself an Olympic Gold Medal with a hot dog move, but important lessons can nonetheless be drawn from this experience.

We are not here to pile on Mr. Payne, as we are sure he is disappointed with the finish of the race.  The purpose of this feature is to once again remind ourselves that we can learn important lessons from others.  Here on Casual Runner, we previously discussed the runner who was found to have cheated her way to victory in the 2015 St. Louis Marathon. We also looked at an inspirational story of the unbelievable strength and fortitude of one runner at the 2015 Boston Marathon.  These are lessons that we can all take to heart and improve upon in our own Casual Running journeys.

IMG_20150510_072540028Whether Payne intended to celebrate or not, the fact is that, by having his “left arm and left index finger pointed to the sky” he, even ever so slightly, let up before crossing the finish line.  He did not run through it.  For most Casual Runners, like myself, doing such a thing may only mean the difference between finishing in 3999th or 4000th place – on a GOOD day! Instead, the more important lesson to take from this is the metaphorical one: if you have a goal in running, as in life, that requires you to finish an endeavor a certain way, you need to see it through to the finish…All the way to the finish.  While letting up early, hotdogging, or celebrating early may help you wind up on a highlight real, it can also lead you to fall short of your goal, and wind up on the highlight real for the wrong reason.

IMG_1605Mike took some time out of his Hilton Head beach vacation to bring us this special feature. Be sure to catch the stories and video from Mike’s previous trip to Hilton Head Island and some of the sights and sounds to be taken in while running on this beautiful island getaway. 

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