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Stories from the Back of the Pack – DFL ❤️

Q: “What if everyone passes me and I end up last?” – Commonly asked question among beginner runners…

A: We asked our community to share their thoughts of what it means to be DFL (Dead Freaking Last) to them.

Andrea S: Two quick ones (as someone who came in close to last in her first triathlon on Sunday): 1) You’ve still lapped everybody on the couch. 2) You’ve had more time to enjoy the course and gotten more out of your entry fee.

Marcea C: I’m not a runner so had to look up what DFL is lol! But this applies to life in general. As long as you got started and tried your best, it doesn’t really matter where you finished because you finished where you were supposed to be.

Emily C: I’m a proud member of #teamturtle. When I know I’m towards the back of the pack I try to remember how grateful I am for what my body can do. I am able to do more now than I could when I was 30.

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Lisa A: Embrace YOUR journey! No one can take that from you!

Barbara B: Have been DFL in many races.My first race all i wanted to be was not last and the race had only 2 walkers and the other walker was faster than me. It was a tough half marathon and 120 started and 62 finished.I know because i was number 62. I may have been last but only one in my age group by 20 plus years. I learned being last means you started and finished two things to be proud of.

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Kristen M: Forward is forward. Last place is still a place. Party in the back!!! I showed up. Just some of my mantras since I am often the final finisher or as I call it ‘show closer’ of races.

Leslie D: Forward is forward. Last place is still a place. Party in the back!!! I showed up. Just some of my mantras since I am often the final finisher or as I call it ‘show closer’ of races.

Natalie V: Last year at the ITU Multisport World Championship in Denmark I was so proud to be there representing Team USA. The day before the race we did a practice swim and there were literally jellyfish everywhere. I freaked out. The day of the race I swam the entire 1k doing the doggy paddle. I was the very last person out of the water and then took my time petting dogs during the 5k run. I have zero regrets and being dead last is like a badge of honor. I had the courage to start and the heart to finish!

Melinda K: DFL > DNF > DNS I’ve been DFL in a bunch of races, and damn close in several others, but it just means everyone who finished earlier can cheer me in!

Amy S: “DFL better then DNS, always!”

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Shannon C: It doesn’t matter when you finish, just that you finish. It takes courage to line up at the starting line of a race. Every single person who runs is amazing, period. No one can take the finish line victory from you. It’s yours and you worked for it. Sometimes, it may take you being DLF or close to it, all that matters is that you finished.

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Heather S: Last year at the 13er we had a huge cheer tunnel for DFL, I was kinda jealous.

Sheryl B: April 14, 2018, I ran my first ultra, the Hawkeye 50k. The weather was horrible, rainy, sleeting, 30 mph sustained winds with 50 mph wind gusts, temps in the lower 30’s and cloudy. I had trained for months for this race and wanted to be an ultra marathoner so badly that I wasn’t going to let anything stop me. I ended up being DFL coming in at 9:25:55.

I wasn’t sad or upset that I was last at all – in fact, I was super proud that I stuck it out in those horrid conditions and pushed through and finished, because there were a lot of people who dropped down to the 25k (only 1 loop -whereas I did 2 loops) and others who didn’t even show up for the race. My friend Kara met me about 3/4 of a mile out and ran with me till the finish line. And low and behold a large group of friends were waiting for me to finish – they had cow bells and were cheering so loudly for me! My friend Molly even recorded me crossing the finish line. The race director, Brian, gave me a painted brick that said “Hawkeye 50k” on it that normally is only given to people who place. He said I put so much hard work into finishing that I deserved it.

I may have been last, but was treated like I finished first. This finish is the most memorable to me. There is no shame in finishing DFL – because you FINISHED! I earned my ultra marathoner status and no one will ever be able to take that away from me!

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Rene C: DFL has taught me more than winning ever did. DFL taught me to stare adversity in the face and keep going. DFL taught me that the little voice that tells me I can’t is a liar but most of all DFL taught me that everything that could’ve taken me out didn’t, that what was meant to break me only showed me how strong I really was. Finishing DFL might’ve meant that I finished last but more than that it means I had the courage to start and finish. DFL isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s a badge of honor you wear proudly to show you went through hell and came out on the other side victorious. No finishing place, time or pace can take that away from you.

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Suellen A: I don’t have a photo from the race in question, so I’ll include a different one, but I’ve been DFL more than once. The first time, though, was a race in Foxboro,MA. Up until this race I was terrified of DFL. I was running well (for me) and on pace for a PR. I knew most everyone already ahead of me but I just kept going, felt great, thanked volunteers. Realized at the end that I was DFL…And also that I had a PR! It was a great day for me because I realized it wasn’t about me. I will always try my best. It is about who else shows up..and I can’t control how fast they are. The pic is from the race at the retreat last year in which, btw, I was proudly DFL in the 10k. Glenda came back and ran me in.

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Cindie C: Haven’t ever been DFL yet….but close to it….use to bother me….doesn’t anymore. I challenge those people sitting on their couches drinking soda and eating potato chips to do what i do!!!

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Sandy S: I’d rather try something epic and fail than to do something easy with guaranteed success. I’ll go one further and say that I will still always try even if I DON’T finish the race. This photo was from the start of a 200 miler race where I completed 128.66 miles and it was a DNF! (Did not finish). I’m more proud of this race that I wasn’t able to finish, because I pushed myself beyond my limits and my comfort zone so far. Yet, I did not hit the 200 mile mark and left empty handed, no medal, no finish results. Just pride in knowing that I did more than I ever thought I could, and will probably try it again one day.

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Dana M: I’ve often expected to be DFL, and then found out there was one or two people behind me – in any case, someone has to be last or the race would never end, right? And you never know how many people behind you disappeared before the finish line because for whatever reason they were unable to finish. (Sometimes not finishing is the wisest, choice, too.) So while I understand the sentiment behind sayings like DFL>DNF>DNS – that’s not realllllly true in every case – but if you accept that sometimes it’s wise not to start a certain race or not to finish (in case of injury, etc.) or sometimes it’s not your day and you miss a cutoff – and there’s nothing wrong with that either – there is definitely something to be said about the perseverance it takes to finish under any circumstances. I really thought I was going to be DFL at my trail half last December, but this guy behind me that I wasn’t sure was going to make it made it as well. We were all so happy to see him and so impressed at his perseverance! I’ve even finished a race with two other women after a finish line was taken down, and while the organizers celebrated our finish with us and gave us our finisher rewards, we were not listed in the official results (which was totally fair). That was my hardest fought finish by far! The guts and courage it takes to keep going when you’re all alone is huge, and those who finish last finish with the most heart.

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Bhakti C: My running coach gave me some sage advice last year when I went to attempt a marathon with much skepticism and fear that I ran in the previous year, with an almost DFL result. The effort is not made on the race course, but rather in the days, weeks, and months of training leading up to race day. “Challenging yourself is terrifying. Finding your limits is terrifying. But when you put on your running shoes every day and do it anyway… you are already winning. You are concurring those parts of your brain that would hold you back and keep you from growth. and that is HUGE because that doesn’t only stay on the trail (or road), that success filters over itno your personal life, your professional life, and the way you approach everything.” it takes courage to put in the training and then step up to the line on race day. Everything else is a celebration of that.

Rene H: I came in DFL on my first (and so far, only) 50K back in 2015. It was hard and I was hurting, but my only goal was to finish. I tell my son the story of that race and I tell it with pride. I am not ashamed to finish last. One of my favorite quotes is “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” I ran 31 freaking miles! Who can be upset with that?

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Jill A: First place and last place both complete the same distance. Someone has to be last just like someone has to be first. Putting value on one as better than the other is just our innate human drive to evaluate and rank things, but where you placed is just neutral information until our brains get ahold of it and start applying judgment. It has no bearing on how hard you worked to get there or who you are as an athlete.

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Sarah G: DFL is better than DNF is better than DNS. This is a picture of me crossing the finish line of my first marathon. I jokingly say that I closed this race down- like all the way down as they don’t have it any longer.

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Michele F: My hardest race where I DFL’d was Badder Marsh 25k in 2017. I almost succumbed to the heat exhaustion that I was feeling really out of sorts. I rested & waited to feel better to finish it and later, I did. I didn’t give up. I didnt DNF! That was my goal. I also got the most wonderful Gator Bait award ever. My son told me that I couldn’t have lost because I got the coolest award.

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Sue B: I was DFL on the first trail marathon I ever attempted. I was just glad to finish – upright before the ambulance (which is always my mantra). They were packing everything up as I finished a a I asked “what do I get for finishing last?” And they gave me a mug. I’d much rather finish DFL than not try. Just get out and move.

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Jennifer S: I tell myself to enjoy this moment because others are missing out if they didn’t come out. Last week I ran Turnagain Arm Trail Race and I was DFL for 6 out of the 8 miles of the course. It’s lonely be back there by yourself but I knew I was running with Olympians and top mountain runners of Alaska and not to be so hard on myself about it. And they were on the trail towards the end to cheer me in as I came in and it was incredible. Finishing first or last is still finishing.

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Shawn S: I came in DFL at a 10K several years ago. I got rock star treatment by the volunteers and race staff; they told me how happy they were that I came out for their race.

Last year, I was DFL at the Casper Marathon, after a very difficult day. The RD was great–I had been feeling ill, and she brought me salty snacks and pop. Again, the volunteers and staff were amazing and didn’t make me feel like I was “less than” at all.

Jenni C: Last year, for my 50th birthday I attempted to run my first ultra, a 50K. I’ve run 5 marathons and too many 1/2’s to count, plus a Half Ironman in about 24 years of running. But the 50K was beyond my comfort zone. It was Trail and it’s been 5 years since I ran over 15 miles. It sucked. Lots of friends went with me and they all finished. I cried!! My epic moment was a failure. But I was proud of myself for going for it. For risking failure and not playing it safe. I’ll be back in 2020 to try again. Hixon will NOT beat me!

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Brooke R: At my 1st marathon I didnt take the early start so pretty much from the half point to the finish I was alone. Around mile 17ish a fellow on his morning run ran with me for a few miles to help me along. The guy collecting the mile markers would collect one check on me and then meet me at the next to get the sign after I passed by. I just refused to give up. At mile 23 I started crying knowing I’d finish. My husband and son met me close to the finish and stayed with me to the finish. Nothing beats knowing I accomplished my goal. And that experience didn’t keep me from tackling 4 more marathons and a 50k. All back or pack and all worth it.

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Cassie H: I did a trail half marathon in September 2018. Less than a mile in, a guy that was dressed for hiking (with a full framed backpack and everything) passed me. At 2 miles I had fallen one time HARD on my knee and tripped so many times more along with being last and not able to see the person in front of me. I knew at the point I’d be last and came to being okay with that. I am doing the same distance and doing the best that I could that day. I beat my time up one killer hill, and was SO HAPPY with that. The course cut off was 5:30, and I finished in 4:30, hearing the clean up crew behind me the entire time. Getting to the finish line was so rewarding because you had to come up a hill before getting to run the last bit all down. The finish line crew announced my name over the PA and that felt SO GOOD! And there was still cold beer at the finish for me.

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Linda V: I have so many stories of being in the bottom 10% of finishers. After one race I posted that I finished. I wrote, “I finished third… from last!” ~~ I walked my first marathon at Nike Women’s in SFO with Team in Training. Only the TNT Full walkers had the special privilege of getting a 60 minute early start. Keeping that in mind, somewhere in mile 25 I got passed. The standout detail is that the runner who passed me had to have been in her 80s and was using a 3-wheeled running “walker.” Imagine, it is a ribcage high device with aero bars for the person to lean on and run. All I could do was laugh! ~~ Then there was 2016. I came to the retreat and did the 13er. Just 2.75 miles in my ankle gave out underneath me and I went down hard, and sprained it for the 2nd time in 10 weeks. I wrapped that baby up tighter than Mulan did trying to get into the Chinese army and finished. HUGE shout out to Kristen GrimesKr and Mary Sutter for keeping me company and distracting me. It was ny second of three DFLs that year.

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Jessi A: My husband tells a story that when my stepdaughter was a baby/toddler she was very tiny and was in the lowest 5th percentile for weight and height so he/ex were concerned. The doctor had to remind them that someone has to be in each percentile or the scale doesn’t work. Not everyone can be in the 95th percentile. Just like not all of us can win Boston.

We as humans rank things for our own personal benefit to make us feel better, when in fact most of the times it just makes people feel worse. Now…I’m not usually a “everyone gets a ribbon” kind of mentality, because failure is healthy— but when it comes to running, the distance is the same and we all completed it! Who cares what position you get? You did it and that’s important.

Stacy M: DFL’d my first marathon. It was a Halloween race and all I could think during the second half was “don’t let the guy in the gorilla suit pass you!” But with 1 mile to go, he passed me—in a full gorilla suit☹️ My husband has pictures and video somewhere of my kids, in costumes, crossing the finish line with me. However they had already starting taking down everything and had to scrounge up a bottle or water and banana for me

Megan W: This has always been my fear. I’ve come close to being DFL in one of my earliest races (I literally sprinted to the finish so I wouldn’t and thought I was going to pass out) but it’s always bugged me. My last race was the first one I didn’t care if I was. My seven year old was with me gearing up for his first “official” race and he was worried he would be last and I was like, “I’m slow, and it’s ok. It’s ok if you finish last because you finished and that’s something to be proud of. And you get a medal and a donut.” Needless to say, he’s now hooked and I realized I needed to heed my own advice. I PR’d my 5k that day and now I’m looking to run a quarter (I know, not everyone believes in a quarter 😆) marathon in July and even if I am DFL, I’ll be DFL in style 😂

Emily C: Also my daughter, Gabi, just started the healthy kids Running Series. She’s 7. Her first race, she was DFL. She was upset when she realized she was last. I told her, “It doesn’t matter that you were last. You finished and you were strong until the end. You’ll get faster every time but you might not ever win and that’s ok.” I was so proud of her.

Crystal E: My first ever triathlon was a DFL! I felt awful but the race director was at the finish to congratulate me!

Johanna N: I came in DFL and 19th place at a small 10k. My sons were there. I saw it as a great experience for them to see Mom come in last and everyone cheer. Last weekend I came in next to last, my friend who I walk/ran the mountain race came in DFL. To be honest I think she did that deliberately. We both came in last for our age group. It didn’t matter, we had a great time at the race, got to know each other better and honestly 10 miles up hill is hard, and I’ll take a DFL over a DNS anytime. That race was very close to a DNS.

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Deborah C: This will probably sound a bit strange, but, I always thought , since I was in the back of the pack, last had some sort of celebrity to it. I think it’s cool to come in last!

Mattie T: I was 28 weeks pregnant (yep…only 28) and had signed up for this 10k. I walked most of it and was followed closely behind an older couple. Do being someone that typically finishes in the top half, it was an eye opening experience. The course is quiet and lonely. It’s easy for your thoughts to turn into negative ones, but the only thing that keeps me going was saying that I was doing it. I was out there moving my legs.

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Samira P: This is me somewhere on the course of my first marathon. I finished last in that race. They were taking down the finish line when I arrived. I cried the whole way home. None of my friends or family came out to support me during the race and I was in so much pain I could barely drive myself the 2 hours home after it. I could have walked away from that race and never signed up for another. But I was so stinking proud of myself for finishing that race that I vowed to keep showing up and to keep making myself proud. I’ve finished a lot more races since then, and I’ve finished last in many of those too. But, running has changed me inside and out. I am more confident and full of gratitude for a body that carries me an incredible distance. Finishing last only brings you down if you let it. It can also propel you forward and push you to be the best version of yourself.

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Donna C: If I’m last, someone else can go home happy because they weren’t. It doesn’t bother me. I think of it as a public service 😁 …and as others have said, I still beat everyone sitting on the couch.

Laura B: I am DFL at most races since I am a walker. I have let people finish in front of me so they don’t have to be DFL. I actually won 3rd in my age group in that race.

My hubby like when I take a picture of the police behind me. He says the police are chasing my wife again.

I did my first marathon last year and I came in 1 hour after everyone else.

I don’t mind being DFL because sometimes I get the biggest cheers being the last person.

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Monica K: My BRF and I were 15 minutes late to the start of a 10k (an hour drive through thunderstorms to get there delayed us). Weather and road conditions were bad. Anyway, we took off from the start line knowing we would be DFL. I was in a horrible mood the first couple of miles. I’m still embarrassed by the emotions I was feeling and bad vibes I was giving off. Winners were on their way back as we were just making our first turn. After a few miles, we caught up with the “back of the pack” runners, and what an awesome bunch it was! It was pouring rain, but we ended up having a blast. I’ll never forget that 10k. And, I learned something new about about myself during that race.

Margaret H: I was DFL on one of first 10K races I ever did, and it was on my birthday. I didn’t know it until I got to the finish line, and everything was pretty much shut down. I think I cried on the way home. Whenever I can I love being the sweeper, so the last person isn’t alone. On Sunday I helped hand out medals at a race in CA. We were running out of medals, so we were paying close attention to the numbers. The photographer left when there were still more than ten people on the course, so I took photos with my phone and texted them. The finish line was mostly broken down, but two of us were there with the medals to cheer them in. Another time, a friend saved me a plate of food when I was back of the pack of a half marathon. I was really touched at a cold, wet miserable ten miler I swept, when the race director was there at the finish line with bags of vendor goodies for the two people I was escorting. As others have said, those who show up are ahead of those that don’t.

Denise A: Last year at a local Sprint tri I was last out of the water. I opted not to wear a wetsuit because it was a short distance, but everyone else did. Couple that with the fact that I’m a crappy swimmer, and I was dfl out of the water. A nice lady was standing at the swim exit and told me I had a smooth swim stroke. That was very kind. Because spoiler alert.. I don’t . I was demoralized but it was ok. I was also nearly last in my first Ironman in 2006. In fact I kept apologizing to the volunteers for keeping them so late. I think I had a couple of people finish behind me though. But I do have a rather infamous you tube video about it. I hesitate to tell people because my friend used “artistic license” in the song he used, so it’s not kid or workplace appropriate. But it is kinda cool, and had like 40k hits the last time I watched it. Heck, my friend spliced in some Kona footage, so Tim and Nicole may even be in it. Lol. 😁 If you are interested, go on you tube and search Denise Ironman Arizona 2006.

Meg H: I’m about to be DFL on Saturday and I’m going to rock it.

Karen W: I volunteered to walk with a friend for her first half marathon. While it was labeled as “walker friendly” and had a 4 hour cut off, we were clearly the last ones on the trail, and had a cycling escort off & on. Thankfully, the water stops stayed open, but every single one asked us, “are you the last ones?” When we got to the finish line, they were out of medals (it turned out they had only been shipped 200 instead of 2000, but I didn’t know that and was originally really upset on her behalf). The only snacks left were orange slices. She was so happy to have completed it, but I didn’t think it was the best experience for her. It took her 3 years to do another one! (I’m in the green jacket). Then, a few years ago, after having completed quite a few halfs, 10ks, and a few 10 miler races, I had a horrible breathing issue during a 10 miler. I knew I was near the end, but there were people behind me on the course. As it turns out, they must have started way behind me, as a friend and I were last in the results and we saw people finish after us. We both went to urgent care after the race; she had pneumonia and I had suffered my first asthma attack (at 45!). We must have been quite the pair on the course! The support was good, no one was trying to get us off course or to quit the course, and people were at the finish line cheering when we crossed. It may have been a slow time for me, but I felt accomplished because I overcame the obstacles to finish and we were supported (not discouraged) the whole time.

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Laura W: I have been DFL twice now. It is so hard when you are working so hard at a race and everyone has passed you. However, I am so proud of both of those finishes. One was at Buffalo 100 miles. My calf had torn and I couldn’t keep a very good pace but I was moving and had made the last cut off so they let me keep moving. I was smiling and happy. My pacer was so cheerful but wouldn’t tell me what time it was even though I kept asking. I came into the finish line and saw so many people who had waited just for me! My family and many friends who had finished their races (50 miler and 50K) and the race director was waiting for me with my belt buckle and mug in his hand. Honestly I had a bigger cheering squad than the winner. This was a super hard earned finish for me and dead last I still covered every step of that 100 miles!

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Stephanie P: I am so THANKFUL for this post! I have been SITTING on the fence for months about signing up for my first 100 – afraid I will not make cut offs. I want it but I am SO SCARED. thank you AMAZING ladies for sharing your stories. You give me courage!

Laura W: I have been DFL twice now. It is so hard when you are working so hard at a race and everyone has passed you. However, I am so proud of both of those finishes. One was at Buffalo 100 miles (ON Antelpoe Island, UT) My calf had torn and I couldn’t keep a very good pace but I was moving and had made the last cut off so they let me keep moving. My pacer was so cheerful but wouldn’t tell me what time it was even though I kept asking. I came into the finish line and saw so many people who had waited just for me! My family and many friends who had finished their races (50 miler and 50K) and the race director was waiting for me with my belt buckle and mug in his hand. Honestly I had a bigger cheering squad than the winner. This was a super hard earned finish for me and dead last I still covered every step of that 100 miles! Injured exhausted and so happy! It took me just shy of 33 hours. THe other DFL was a few weeks before that at a 55K in Southern Utah. I was 15 minutes over the cut off but they let me finish because I was pushing hard and moving well. As I came into the finish they had a friend of mine, Cory Reese, give me my medal and they gave me a hydration vest! So that was awesome!!

Carol S: Crossing the finish DFL of the half marathon group. I ran mostly alone the second half. It was a technical trail up hill 1st half and down that steep rocky trail second half. Hot and humid I did not plan well for that heat. Legs cramped but I kept going as I could. I knew this would be really difficult..why I did it. I finished!! did not care if I was last. Most people were gone but they did not tear anything down and saved lots of food. Of the hundreds of races I have run in 35 years this is one of the ones I am most proud of…

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Brandy B: Badder Marsh 25k 2018- really not sure where I landed in this one but was pretty darn close to last, I think, in about 5 hours 15 minutes finish time. Thanks to Michele and a couple others I was able to finish! They iced me down at least 3 times and made sure I was hydrated and fed! Heat exhaustion/stroke almost got me. It is great when you go out of state and make new friends and won’t quit even when dragging.

DezzJay M: My first 50K I came in less than 30 sec after the DFL. So I am not an official finisher. But I was given a finishers award (mug for ALQ50K) because I made all the other cut-offs. I was bummed and happy at the same time. Bummed because I missed the finish time limit. Happy because I did the freakin’ course even without training for it. In the 30°s, trail, mud, water and sand. And met so many amazing people along the way. It’s an experience I will not forget. As long as I ran and Run Happy, I am in good company. I’ve always been afraid that I will not finish or that I will be DFL. Not anymore. The point is that I had enjoyed myself and learned a lot, and finished the course. No one can take away that accomplishment. Run Happy always!

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Lisa A: Fall Creek Falls Olympic Triathlon – August 2016 and I still got 3rd place in my age group! 🤣

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Michele B: Last year’s Rabun Half Marathon… a preview to the sky to summit ultra. Tough run, climb with lots of elevation to the top of Rabun Bald and then back down. BEAUTIFUL scenery and the 3 of us stuck together to DFL. We went over the 4 hour cut off time, but the “caboose” was so nice and kept encouraging us along the way. Gonna try again this June and hope to at least get under the 4 hour mark even if we DFL again 😊

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Amanda H: A year ago I completed my first ultra. It was muddy, I had stomach issues, and I re-injured my hamstring during the race. When people asked how the race went I told them I finished 2nd to last. The overwhelming response I got from everyone was “who cares? You finished”. And they’re right, I freaking finished! Nobody cares what my time was. Nobody cares what place I got. I finished! Some races even give awards for DFL and I would be proud to earn one.

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Alex T: I was DFL (or tied for DFL) in a tough, muddy, trail marathon in Oregon several years ago. But over half the field dropped out bc the conditions were so tough, so I saw it as a true badge of badassery on my part… I did not quit when over half of the runners threw in the towel.

Carianne C: It wasn’t a race so much as a fundraiser 5K for Hope for the Warriors. It was consequently filled with vets and other active runners and this was only ~ six months into my running career. DFL and I knew it on the outbound of an out and back. I said to the water station volunteer just shy of half that he could go back – I knew my way and was fine running on myself. He packed up the station and when I reached him on the return, he ran back in with me. He stopped short of the finish so he was technically last. I loved all of that although I truly didn’t care re finishing last. I wrote a blog the next day about a rebound. It taught me a lot too. – about sportsmanship but also, what to eat for an afternoon race in summer heat…/03/letdown-run-or-maybe-not/

Lisa L: I have been dfl more than once. Getting my money worth out of the race 😉 plus my happiness is my responsibility

Dawn H: One Humpy’s marathon, I knew I was going to be DFL. I caught the 50 Staters, who were a head of me, and we all came through the finish, as a tribe of slow people, singing Yellow Submarine. The race director, and a few others, awaiting us, were crying with laughter. Best finish ever!

Mary S #1: I’ve actually got two! One of the things that kept me from doing a full marathon, was the fear of being swept. I knew that with as slow as I was, I likely wouldn’t be able to finish in time. I didn’t want to put in all the training, then not be able tofinish! I was conned by a skirt sister (Sandy con woman Stiner) into signing up for a Mainly Marathon full marathon with NO TIME LIMIT. Plus it was free and she’d do it with me! I had been last in a few small trail races before, so it wasn’t anything new. As long as I could make cutoffs, I knew I’d be just fine. The nice thing about the Mainly Marathon race was that they have an award for last place! The Caboose award! I actually found myself plotting to be in last place because it was my one chance to WIN something with running! LOL….thank you Ms. Stiner for going ahead to take finish line photos and let me win the Caboose!

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Mary S #2: One week after my first full marathon (mentioned above), I was signed up to do the Skirt Sports 13er. Reverse taper anyone? I was hurting. A LOT. It was REALLY hot. We were REALLY slow. There were three of us sisters that stuck together. One fell during the race and we waiting with her while medics bandaged her up. And we continued on. No woman left behind! We were literally running with our awesome police escort! We had fun with it and even had a photo staged of our police escort writing us a “speeding ticket” (I cannot find that photo for anything! Kristen Grimes???). So the three of us finished together. NO ONE left behind! They saved cake for us! (key thing there!) It was rough physically and even emotionally – but we did it and did it together!!! So that is pretty much exactly what happens when you finish last at the 13er!

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Jennifer D: I don’t have a DFL but a DNF and the race is still the highlight of my “race career” so far. It was EPIC and awesome and I loved every moment of it. I often get told to shut up about it because honestly it was just SO much fun I can go on for hours about it. And I’m pretty sure the smile on my face in this picture shows it.

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Shavonne B: My very first 5K 10 years ago this Father’s Day, I finished DFL behind and 80 year old women. I decided on the spur of the moment (literally that day) I wanted to do a 5K. So, dressed in my regular bra, cotton shirt, cotton shorts, and my regular tennis shoes off I went. Didn’t know what I was getting into but after this race, I went home and signed up for the Air Force 5K. Have been doing 5K’s ever since and have added some 10K’s as well. Just this past weekend, I completed my first half marathon at the Indy Mini Marathon. I’ve come a long way from that DFL!

Annette S: I am always a mid to back of the packer and have been dfl a couple times. I have had cop escorts as dfl in a road race and sweep escorts as dfl in a trail race. At first I felt really bad. Then I thought…I finished this damn race under the cutoff time so it doesn’t matter if I am last! Celebrate all the moments of achievement and just do you! That’s my new life motto💕

Rosie G: Last year in March I was DFL for the Oakland Marathon. From the time a friend bailed on me about mile 5, I was mostly by myself until about mile 20 on the streets of Emeryville/Oakland (saw way too much of Oakland than I ever wanted). At about mile 16 (or so), I was informed that I was the last runner on course. I started to panic as cars were passing me & the cop car hovered behind me. My mom called at that moment and talked me off the ledge. My friend Jenny walked the last 6 miles with me and several of my Galloway group members helped walk me in at mile 25. The finish line was taken down, but my mom (who is amazing) bullied someone for a medal and made sure the timer people stayed. I finished in 7:25 (only 25 mins after the cut off). It was the hardest thing I have done, but I am so glad I did. Also wouldn’t have made it without my Mom, brother and my running Ohana.

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Tia H: When I finish in the back, I know I’ve gone the exact same distance and route as the ones who finish in the front… but I get more bang for my buck! My entry fee per hour of racing is less than the winners, so I guess I get a better deal, right? Someone has to bring up the back to make sure everyone else finishes safe and sound – why not me?

Jamie Q: I was signed up for Umstead 100 in 2018. I ended up in emergency knee surgery 5 weeks prior for a random infection in my joint, then a month of antibiotics 3x a day through a PICC line. With my doctor’s reluctant consent (as long as I didn’t have pain or swelling), I set out to see what I could do. I wasn’t DFL, but I was one of the last 5 people to finish 50 miles. I walked for 18 hours in a constant pouring down, freezing rain. Technically I DNF my 100 miler, but I couldn’t have been happier. It was my slowest 50 miles by far and my hardest race ever. I knew going into it that I was going to be in the way back, but I didn’t care. It was so much better than not being there at all. 💚

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