The idea began with the Sweathouse Half Marathon, and an article that celebrated the remarkable achievement of a woman who finished last. Shortly thereafter, a first version of the award was presented to Stacey Bray at her final Beginning Runners Class before leaving the area for a new job. Since that time the idea has grown.
We now have a supply of attractive medals designed and produced by our own local Jocko Graphics. They are available to be presented on a race-by-race basis at the discretion of the Race Director. One wonders whether there will be a new competition "Race for Last." We aren’t worried.
The Last Best Finisher Award recognizes the courage it takes to start a race, the persistence required to continue, and the commitment needed to finish. The award pays attention to the fact that a person who finishes at the end has been on the course longer, and has overcome both internal self-talk and the implicit feedback of a system that waits impatiently for them to arrive (or doesn’t).
We recently discovered that the Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska has long presented a "red lantern award" to the final finisher; Race to the Sky here in western Montana has adopted the practice as well. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and our flattery is indeed heartfelt.
Run Wild Missoula co-sponsors the Last Best Finisher award with Wellbuddies Coaching.