I just watched the Age Group video recap for Rev3 Quassy (which I did last weekend). I encourage you to watch it too – even if you’re not an athlete.
Ok, now that you watched it… time for my Ramble…..
Honestly, I’m ashamed I wasn’t around for the last place finisher. I hadn’t even given it a thought and for that… shame on me. What the heck was wrong with me?! I was still able to walk, I have no excuse. Yes I was tired, but I WAS DONE and they were NOT.
On the flip side, I am beaming with pride to be part of an organization which took care of the last place guy. Rev3 gave it the thought and consideration to bring him in with the same honor and dignity that everyone else got. Making sure someone ran with him – at the end and in the chute? Awesome. It’s freaking lonely at the back of the pack. It’s very motivating having some uber-fit people take the time to run with you, talk to you like you’re a fellow ATHLETE. This kind of act is one of the things the drew me to Triathlon in 2004 and change my life 180 degrees.
If you’ve never been last, I’m not sure you can understand HOW big of a difference it makes when you’re in that deep-dark place. If you have done any endurance event, you know that place at the end (usually, sometimes sooner!) of a hard race. I have to tell you always-been-fast folk that the dark place is even darker when you are LAST and alone out on the course. You’re embarrassed, you’re lonely, you’re mad you’re so fat/old/slow, you’re mostly just sad, there is a lot of raw emotion. It’s nothing like the anger/disappointment of a long round of training only to be slower than before… or not podium… or DNF. These suck, but these are short lasting. We move on, we rebuild, we go again. This is much deeper. DFL (dead-f-ing-last) is the worst. Even really slow people dread this designation. Oh well, at least I wasn’t DFL… So how would YOU feel if you tried your hardest, did your best, but you were last?
This dark time is a critical point for any race event – are you going to leave them thinking “That was the most miserable and embarrassing experience of my life, I want nothing to do with Rev3 or Triathlon I just want to crawl under a rock and die” or “oh-my-god that was great I’m so proud of what I just accomplished and this whole weekend was AWESOME I love Rev3!”? The aid stations volunteers, the finish line energy, and the sweep up crew are all critical to changing that negative emotional spiral into possibly one of the best moments of their life. For the LAST 20% of the racers, having smiling encouraging folks cheering them on ad a finish line fully assembled, with people cheering and music blaring is all it takes. Take those away and you feel like a big fat/old/slow turd. Remember, 1/3 of the people out there are in the “Back of Pack” category – and most of them aren’t happy about that. So if we can make sure they have a good experience, the placement becomes irrelevant. Rev3 gets that.
If you don’t know my back story (which would be a surprise, you’re on my blog – LOL, look around!) - years ago I WAS that guy. I’ve been on the course while they’re shutting it down… tearing down aid stations before I even got to them. I’ve been out there when the aid stations are barren or gone, no food left at the finish, no medals left (“oops, we didn’t get enough – too bad you get nothing to show for your first half marathon, not even a banana”), no cheering, nothing but some annoyed looking people waiting for my fat azz to let them go home. My wife yelled at a race director who wanted to shut down the course BEFORE the official cutoff. I was still out there… many people were. So many instances of the slow people getting shafted.
Whether you are at the front of the pack or the back of the pack, everyone deserves a great experience. And Rev3 delivers. And by delivering… you get happy people building memories that will last a lifetime, they change lives, and yes – they get repeat customers. Win-Win.
Keep up the great work guys!