At every race there is a first athlete. This person gets glory and sometimes cash.
Every race also has a last athlete. We love the last athlete.
Their determination to finish a long multisport race like a triathlon or SwimRun exemplifies grit and spirit. Strangers shed tears seeing the last athlete cross the finish line. Volunteers cheer. And race directors finally exhale.
The last athlete reminds us that sport is a community project. It’s a very large community project with many spinning parts. And every volunteer, athlete, and fan arrives on race day with life stuff, work stress, and family projects all buzzing in the background of their lives.
When the last athlete crosses the finish line it’s a little like a large orchestra has played the final note in a long song that was started many months previous.
In non-pandemic years, this person often gets a huge cheer. Last year at Durrance Lake, the last athlete crossed the XTERRA Victoria finish line while fans, athletes, and volunteers gathered for the podium celebration. When we saw the last athlete coming in to cross the finish line we stopped the award ceremony to raise a huge cheer.
This year at SwimRun Victoria, because of COVID-19, we asked athletes to leave the race area as they finished. We had no podium.
So when Robin Tayler crossed the finish line this year at Durrance Lake, there were only a handful of people there to cry and cheer. After four times around Durrance Lake, four times up The Beast, and four laps of the lake, she finished in 04:13:30. Thank you, Robin for being our last athlete this year!
And thank you Ace Hicks for being there to witness your mother’s incredible finish with us, and also to take these amazing race photos!