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Julia Sims: The dead last winner

Posted April 7, 2014

Julia Sims with son Will

A few weeks ago, Will ran his first 5K. His school has an annual run that serves as a fundraiser. Teachers use it as a tool for educating the students about healthy choices.

Will got a running T-shirt and a bib with his race number. The little guy was pumped. On the way to the race, I told him about running my first (and only) marathon. He said "Daddy said it took you a long time." (he put extra emphasis on the word long) I pointed out though that I had finished and that's what mattered.

About 20 steps into the run, Will said he had a stitch in his side. I explained how to get rid of it and we trotted along. The next thing I knew he was skipping, he was meandering, he was walking and stopping to pick weeds. Before we knew it, we were at the back of the pack - behind more than 500 runners.

Soon enough, the finish line was in sight. The PA announcer bellowed "Folks here they come! Let's here it for our final runners!" Yes: We were dead last. Then, Will did something only Will would do. He sprinted past me over the finish line, turned around and laughed and said "Mama, I beat you!" Then, he took off to play with his friends.

Later that day, I jokingly wrote on Facebook about the fact we were dead last. Immediately, my wise friends set me straight with messages like "Julia, I've never even done a 5K! Will has me beat." and "The little guy finished. That's a huge accomplishment."

Whoa. That stopped me in my tracks. I thought about it and they were right. The little guy never once complained. He never said he wanted to go home. He never said he wanted to quit. And then, I remembered my long marathon run and how proud I was that at least I finished. 

That night I gave Will a high five and told him how proud I was of him. He said "But, mama, we were dead last."

I hugged him tight and told him we were dead last winners. He laughed and laughed.

Sometimes, I suppose, it's the parents who need to be reminded of what's really important.

Julia is a reporter for WRAL-TV and the mother of a grade schooler. She writes monthly for Go Ask Mom.


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  • Jennifer Edwards Apr 9, 2014
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    Every time someone tells me they're a slow runner I tell them "You're faster than everyone sitting at home on the couch." Just get out there and move, it doesn't matter how fast you go.

  • AreYouHelpingOrHurting Apr 8, 2014

    Congratulations to both of you, you finished! I started running in my forties after many years as a soccer and cross country mom and finished 3rd to last in my only marathon (never able to run again). My son was killed in a car accident 3 months later and the last family picture with him in it was taken at the end of the race. Enjoy every moment with Will.

  • dikduh Apr 7, 2014

    What a great story. Thanks for sharing!