Chances are you may have already seen it, but if you’ve never watched the clip of the Oregon distance runner prematurely celebrating his victory in a college track meet last year you really should check it out.  You can read more about the race and see the video here.  It’s a pretty simple story: runner thinks his lead is bigger than it really is, he begins waving toward the crowd, and then gets passed at the tape.

As we head toward the end of the school year, I’m reminded of the importance of being in the habit of finishing strong.

In general, human nature is to coast when possible, to relax when we can get away with it.  One of the differences between those who excel compared to those who simply do enough to get by, is the way that those who pursue excellence push themselves and others to the finish.

oregon runner post

At the end of a workout, the end of a class, the end of a practice, the end of a game, or a season, sometimes even the end of a life, whatever it is, let’s finish strong.  And let’s teach those whom we lead to finish strong as well.  The Oregon runner mentioned earlier, Tanguy Pepiot, had this to say:

“”I thought I was by my self, like, far in front of the second guy,” Pepiot said. “I saw [Simon] on the screen, I tried to pick up, he just got me on the line. I’m not proud of myself right now, but it’s a good lesson for me, I think, not to do this in the future. Next time I’ll just run the whole final stretch and celebrate in the victory lap.”

I love the fact that Pepiot was mature enough to admit his mistake and learn from it.  Chances are our example won’t go viral online or show up on ESPN, but when we can help someone learn the value of finishing strong, it might end up being one of the most important lessons they ever get from us.  Break the tape.  Whatever you’re doing, finish strong.