In a society that often prioritizes winning above all else, it can be easy to overlook the courage, determination, and persistence of those who finish at the back of a race. This article aims to challenge the misconception that finishing dead fucking last (DFL) is a failure, celebrating the true victory that lies in participation and perseverance, regardless of one’s performance.

The Value of Participation

The participation trophy has faced considerable criticism, with some arguing that it encourages mediocrity. However, recognizing the effort of individuals who step outside their comfort zones and engage in activities beyond the confines of their screens is not about rewarding mediocrity. Instead, it’s about celebrating the bravery to try and the commitment to stay the course.

Running statistics offer a broader perspective on this issue. For example, only 0.1% of the U.S. population participates in races. In this context, even finishing last in a race is an accomplishment that sets you apart from the vast majority of people. This realization can help runners maintain their motivation and enthusiasm, even if they don’t break any records or earn any accolades.

Perseverance and Support

Coming in last in a race can be disheartening, but there are many reasons to take pride in this position. First and foremost, completing a race – no matter your ranking – is an achievement in and of itself. Friends and family often remind DFL finishers that while they were out running, countless others remained sedentary or idle in front of screens.

Moreover, the support and camaraderie experienced at the back of the pack can be incredibly uplifting. Race officials, volunteers, and fellow participants often reserve their most enthusiastic encouragement for those who may be struggling. This sense of solidarity can empower runners to keep going, even when the going gets tough.

Lessons from the Back of the Pack

Numerous runners have shared their experiences of finishing last in a race, recounting the invaluable lessons they’ve learned and the impact these moments have had on their lives. For some, coming in DFL has taught them the importance of perseverance and self-compassion. For others, it has provided an opportunity to reassess their priorities, recognizing that the journey matters more than the destination.

One such story comes from Chris Abraham, who finished DFL in the Four Courts Four Miler. Despite feeling self-conscious throughout the race, he was buoyed by the support of the race officials, volunteers, and even the faster runners. Abraham’s experience is a testament to the power of community and the inherent value of participation.

Races That Embrace the Back of the Pack

In an effort to promote inclusivity and encourage participation, some races offer special awards or recognition for the DFL runner. These events serve as a reminder that running is about more than just winning; it’s about the shared experience, the personal growth, and the satisfaction of overcoming challenges.


Finishing dead fucking last in a race is not a failure. It’s a testament to the resilience, courage, and determination of those who refuse to give up, even when the odds are stacked against them. By embracing the back of the pack, we can foster a more inclusive and supportive running community that celebrates every participant’s unique journey.