What I Learned at the Finish Line

by jon on January 8, 2012

If you are looking for a reason to start running, I have some free motivation for you.  Go observe the finish line at the next 5K or any other race in town. I’ve run in many races before, but I developed an entire new perspective when I stumbled upon a race finish line while on vacation in Asheville, NC.

What I saw that day was how running brings people together. Usually hundreds of people are doing something early on a Saturday morning for a good cause. Many are running to achieve a special milestone with their health, and it could be someone’s first race or their 100th. Here are some other things I noticed:

-Families and friends hugging each other. Lots of quotes like “you did it”, “I am so proud of you”, “I can’t believe you are here” and “I will never forget this day.”

-People crying after making it through the finish line.

-Posterboards from little kids titled “You can do it Mom/Dad. I love you. You are my hero.”

-Young kids finishing the race. I always smile when I see these.

-People raising their arms in their air as they run through the finish line. It could be families finishing together like this picture below.


-Dogs running to embrace their owner. I love to watch these…if you leave your dog for even 30 seconds they think you left forever, right?  My little brother brought mine when I finished a half marathon recently.  Yes, he got a medal too.

-People ringing bells, playing music and yelling wildly when they see their loved ones.

-Perfect strangers walking up to each other and saying “how did you do…that is fantastic…I am so happy for you.”

I sure walked away from that finish with a big smile on my face.

The great thing is you don’t even have to have a big family at the finish line to experience this. I run many of my races by myself or with a just a friend or two. However, I feel really connected to perfect strangers who come up and ask if I achieved my goals. No one wants to compare themselves to me or one up my time, but they genuinely just want to know how my race went. I saw this happening that day in Asheville with people from all walks of life.

You could even find yourself at a finish line as one of three lucky guys amongst 200 girls like I did at the 2011 Healthy Living Summit 5K. See if you can find me. It’s like a Where’s Waldo book.  Ha.


Maybe you will see a marriage proposal. One of my best friends proposed to his future wife at the finish line of the ING Miami Marathon. He actually carried the ring with him all 26.2 miles. And of course she said yes! Everyone liked it so much it became an ad in Runners World below. What an amazing memory they will have for the rest of their lives. And I bet they made the race that much more special for everyone else at the finish line…

So lets see if we can unpack the real meaning of the finish line.  Is it?

Run (1) + People (1) = Race (2)


Run (1) + People (1)  = Race, Inspiration, Connection, Friendship, Acceptance, Love, Happiness and Encouragement  (More than 2).

I guess it is all in your perspective. See you at the finish line!


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Carole Levy January 10, 2012 at 9:35 am

Ah Jon, you almost convinced me again to run and you touched the sensitive nerves: that’s true that when I saw my daughter at 8 years old finishing her first 5k and being announced at the microphone because she was crossing the end line, I cried! Plus I decided that i would run the next one with her and train myself for it. But then, I went back to reality. I don’t like running and I have some believes that it’s bad for my body: it’s going to hurt my knees and my back. Could you help me with these believes?!!!
Thanks and great post!


jon January 12, 2012 at 8:02 am

Ah Carole, thank you for sharing and being so open with your comment. Certainly everyone’s body reacts differently to running, but I don’t know of any general negative effects to the knees or back. Maybe you could talk to your doctor about it? I know the process of getting into running can be really hard. When I started, I was a really big guy and also thought I would be hurting myself. I got shin splints all the time, tried to run too much and it wasn’t fun. One thing that helped me was getting fitted for shoes that fit my running style. You could find a running store in town that will watch how your foot strikes the ground and put you in the right shoes. That did away with my shin splints. I certainly have been injured a few times running over the years, but I tried to stay more balanced now. I remember I need to spend time stretching, staying flexible and doing other things like weights and yoga. Certainly anything active can cause injuries, but we just have to take care of our bodies. And if you do start running, start small. Start running a mile for a few weeks and take very measured steps. Maybe you could find a friend in town or family to connect with while you run. I usually run with friends, and it is a great way to catch up with people. Some of my best ideas have come from runs because brain science says it increases our cognitive ability and creativity! If you decide to talk with your doctor, maybe you could search for a learning goal if you feel compelled to start. My grandfather was my inspiration as you will see from my first blog post. He passed away a few years ago, but for some reason when I run in races I feel really close to him. It is pretty neat. It sounds like it sure was a beautiful moment when you saw your daughter crossing the finish line. I hope to share a moment like that with my family some day. Keep me updated!


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