I’m pretty sure I’ve not finished last in anything I’ve tried hard at. That was until last Thursday.
The scene of my humiliation was the school playing field last week - my first school sports day for our youngest – and the finale was the parents’ sprint.
I rather liked the idea and joined the dad’s race. I didn’t expect to win, I just wanted my five-year-old to have someone to cheer in the final event.
So I took up my position, oblivious to the other competitors. It was only when I overheard a latecomer saying “I’ll wait to the next heat, these guys look a bit too serious” did I glance across at the other lanes.
Long legs, running vests, plus one dark guy who I swear was the spit of Usain Bolt. It also became plainly clear that I’m not a young dad. In fact, I could probably have fathered any of the guys that lined up against me. Suddenly this didn’t look the fun event I had envisaged.
My reactions had to help. I remembered the time I outgunned the fastest road production bike in the world through the first set of timing lights on my clapped-out 600 in a drag race up at Santa Pod raceway. Boy, I prayed I could get off the line as quick, with just my little legs to propel me.
I did, but reactions were not enough. As I powered forward, the guys next to me clawed at my arms as they tried to keep balance, elbows were thrown and I almost went down. Regardless of the manhandling, the truth is they would have gone past in the last 50 metres anyway, as my limitations as a 100m sprinter were ruthlessly exposed.
Despite the fact that I had twenty years on some of these guys, I had at least tried.
A courteous ‘unlucky’ missed the point completely. There was no hatchet to bury with Lady Luck, it was Mother Nature who decided the outcome this time. I consoled myself with the fact that while growing old may be mandatory, growing up remains optional.