The Thrill of Winning
Most of us will never win. It's a fact that we tend to run for a number of different and varied reasons, but for the vast majority of us winning is not what we're about. This doesn't mean that we're not competitive or that we don't want to improve - of course we do. We might want to improve our personal best or run further than we have done before. We might want to beat our training partner to that gate post or come in the top 40 of our local Park Run, but winning we have realised is not something that we're likely ever to do.
But wouldn't it be wonderful, to win? To come first place, to cross the line before everyone else, to have the gold medal wrapped around our necks.
In teams sports it's very likely that you will win. Even if you're in danger of relegation it's rare that you'll experience a whole season without, at least once, tasting the sweet savour of victory. Whereas in running the odds are stacked against your chances of ever winning a race. This is why I jumped at the chance to race at a local athletics competition where I knew that my chances of tasting victory might increase.
This was to be my first time running around a 400 metre track since school sports day. Arriving early, I was informed that the first race would be the 5000 metres. Looking around, it was hard to spot many people at all let alone any potential competitors, could this be the chance of actually winning that I had been looking for?
Lining up with my fellow competitors: a seventy year old man, two twelve year old girls, a man with khaki shorts that required a belt and a man with a running t-shirt, I fancied my chances of getting a silver medal. I hadn't been doing any specific training for the race, but felt good as I began to run laps.
It soon became clear that the two girls were not that committed, they were strolling around chatting to each other about their week at school. This gave me a real chance of making the top four. The seventy year old, something of a legend in the local sporting culture, was also walking. I had lapped him about four times by my second lap. And then there were two.
It later turned out that the khaki short wearing runner had turned up purely to retain his title from the year before. As I lapped the runner in the running t-shirt I knew that he was now the only man that stood between me and sweet victory. By this time it was clear that I had gone out too fast. My laps were slowing and, although leading, I was in danger of being caught. Persevering, within the last two laps I stretched my lead and, in the end, was close to lapping the silver medalist.
Victory! It didn't matter who I had beaten. That feeling of crossing the finish line first was absolutely brilliant. Later that day, whilst lapping people in the 1500 metres (I know that's not supposed to happen) I tasted victory again, what a feeling. And so if you can find a race obscure enough with a small enough number of entrants then do it! At least once, run for the victory.