By: Blonde Two

I was looking for information on the London Marathon yesterday.  It was easy to find out about those who crossed the line first but very difficult to find out about those who came in last.  This seems a shame as these back-runners would have also worked very hard to get there.  The interweb, it would appear, only remembers the winners.

The Two Blondes saw lots of teams criss-crossing Dartmoor in their final work up to Ten Tors this weekend.  Teams full of  youngsters – some bouncy, some tired, some struggling, some happy.  Each team had something in common though – someone was at the front and someone was, inevitably, bringing up the rear.

Being an rear-bringer-upper myself, I could appreciate the look of determination on the faces of these back-runner kids.  A lot of them would have still been at the team selection stage and would have been feeling the pressure.  The back can be a very lonely place at times, you can hear laughter and conversations up ahead of you but can’t join in.  At the back it is easy to get miserable, you want with all your heart to be as fast as the others but can’t quite do it.  In a good team, people will stop and give you time to catch up – this is appreciated but you inevitably get less rest time and have the horrid feeling that people are fed up because you are slowing everyone down.

So for all of you rear-bringer-uppers and all of you ahead-walkers here are a few things that might help you to appreciate the inevitable;

1.  When we are at the back, we tend to look further ahead.  I know that this sounds silly but we are always looking at the people in front of us and on into the distance at the terrain that we are struggling with.  This means that we are more likely to notice if the group is going the wrong way.

2.  From the back, we are much more likely to notice if someone else on the team drops a compass, has their laces undone or has a more serious a problem.  We back runners tend to pick up the pieces.

3.  Back-runners are often the most determined people in a team.  If we weren’t, we would have walked off ages ago and left the rest of you speeders to it.

3.  If we are walking behind someone, we get the opportunity to look at their bottom for longer (this is a mixed blessing but has served to cheer me up in the past).  We can also pass wind without anyone even noticing.

The Ten Tors Challenge was designed to be a test of endurance, skill and teamwork but an inevitable element of being the fastest has become part of the culture and the press in particular tend to celebrate those first across the line.  Maybe when we are picking teams (a truly horrible job that we shed tears over every year) we should concentrate not on dropping those who are at the back but on keeping those who choose to walk with them.