Five Unforgettable Stories of Runners Who Finished Last


Studies showed that marathon finishers often have different motivations based on their age and gender. Additionally, education level, training frequency, and experience can also influence runners’ certain motivations.

Such differences suggest that strength and conditioning coaches and sports psychologists should consider these factors when training and motivating their runners.

One essential part of marathon training is cardio exercises. If you are in Australia, this site provides the necessary cardio equipment for your exercise and training needs.

Even when these runners do not win, proper training and motivation should give them enough drive to at least finish the race, regardless of place.

Who are some of the notable runners who finished last? What were their inspiring stories of victory despite their defeat? What made them push forward in spite of the adversity and loss?

This article explores the inspirational stories of five notable runners who placed last in their races and the driving force behind their dedication to finish the course, no matter the costs.

John Stephen Akhwari: 1968 Summer Olympics

John Stephen Akhwari represented Tanzania during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. Due to the effects of the high altitude of the race venue, he experienced cramps that slowed his progress. So his chances of winning the men’s marathon were already slim.

To add to his challenges, Akhwari fell to the ground, injuring and dislocating his knee, and hit his shoulder against the pavement.

Observers assumed he would pull out of the race and go to the hospital. Instead, he received medical attention and returned to the race.

Although his pace was much lower the second time, he resolved to complete the event.

He said he did not wish to add to the number of racers who pulled out, which at that time, already numbered 18 out of the 75 runners.

Akhwari crossed the finish line in last place more than an hour after the winner did. A few thousand spectators who remained in the stadium after the sun went down cheered him on.

He was limping with his leg bandage flapping in the wind when he reached the stadium long after officials awarded the medals to the winners.

He may not have won a medal. However, he came to represent something more enduring and profound in defeat and pain than many athletes can achieve in their careers.

Derek Redmond: 1992 Summer Olympics

The 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, was Derek Redmond’s first and only time participating in this prestigious event. However, his running career had been rife with injury.

Halfway through the men’s 400-meter race, Derek Redmond’s hamstring tore, and he collapsed. However, when medical aid arrived to move him off the track, he insisted on finishing the race.

What happened next was among the most inspiring things in sports history and, perhaps, parent-child relationships. Despite the security in the venue, Derek’s father ran from the stands and joined him on the track.

The father held his son up, and, as Redmond wept, they walked toward the finish line, and the crowd of 65,000 gave Redmond a standing ovation.

Maickel Melamed: 2015 Boston Marathon

Maickel Melamed, a Venezuelan runner, has a medical condition similar to muscular dystrophy, a genetic condition that causes muscles to weaken.

Due to his low muscle tone, Melamed struggles with many physical tasks, including walking. So when he completed five full marathons, his achievement was nothing short of extraordinary.

During a marathon in 2015, Melamed experienced many obstacles stacked against him. He ran for almost the entire day and night, making him exhausted and causing his legs to give out.

In addition to his exhaustion, the rain started pouring, soaking him wet. Furthermore, the freezing temperature at night made his situation more challenging.

Still, he kept running when almost anyone else in his situation would have pulled out.

Nearing the end of the race, he had to take six steps at a time, rest, then run again. He repeated this pattern until he crossed the finish line after running for over 20 hours.

The race organizers presented Melamed his medal in a ceremony later in the day. In a speech, he said he runs to send a message, asking people to raise the bar of expectation for themselves.

Abbey D’Agostino: 2016 Summer Olympics

During the women’s 5,000-meter race in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, runners Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino collided and fell to the ground. The two women had never previously met.

D’Agostino, from the United States, was able to stand up first. But instead of catching up with the other runners, she decided to give up the race and help Hamblin to get back up.

When they started running again, it was apparent that D’Agostino was injured. She collapsed and appeared to have given up the race. However, Hamblin stopped and helped D’Agostino this time, encouraging D’Agostino to finish the race.

D’Agostino mustered the strength to run the final stretch despite her injuries. Although D’Agostino finished last, Hamblin waited and hugged her upon crossing the finish line. The gesture became a powerful representation of the Olympic spirit.

Evie Tate: 2016 ACC Championship

During the 2016 ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) Cross Country Championship, three college students crossed the finish line together in an inspiring display of sportsmanship and unity.

Toward the end of the race, Madeline Adams from Boston College started to fall. Noticing this situation, Evie Tate of Clemson University immediately stopped to help Adams.

Other individuals may say anyone could do the same thing. However, dozens of runners ran past Tate and Adams even as the two struggled toward the finish line.

Despite helping Adams, who could not walk, Tate could not carry her alone. Fortunately, Rachel Pease from Louisville decided to give up her place and helped Tate in supporting Adams.

The three women from three different schools finished together. Despite not winning the race, they still felt a sense of victory for a moment.

In any sport, including running, you will hear inspiring stories of sportsmanship and breaking the limits of human endurance. Contact a sports psychologist or your local sports organization if you are interested in joining a sport or reading more inspiring stories.


  1. What Motivates Successful Marathon Runners? The Role of Sex, Age, Education, and Training Experience in Polish Runners

  1. Marathon Man Akhwari Demonstrates Superhuman Spirit

  1. Derek Redmond