I can't even look at this without crying.  Fitzness.com

It’s not very interesting to watch me cross a finish line. People expect it from me. If I were 1st place at a race, folks might care. But really, I’m no highlight of any race (other than in my own mind). I have a lovely relationship with the crew from runDisney and make an effort to run every race I can, because they’re quite simply the most complete, fun, entertaining, happy, well-organized races in the world. And … I want you to join me in them!

Fitzness.com

Fitzness.com

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon though. Because the first place runners go so fast, especially in a half marathon … only a very small amount of people are at the finish line to see them win. By the time the back-of-the-packers cross the finish line, most folks have gone home. Big mistake. Missing Sir Speedy win the race is a little sad. But missing the last thousand finishers cross the finish line is a critical error that you should sincerely consider not making again. I’ve enjoyed this experience from a little press tent near the finish line a few times now and it’s the thing I look forward to most. Why? These are the people who really had to fight for it. They don’t do a race every weekend. In fact, this is often the greatest physical accomplishment they have done or ever will do. Many are overweight. Many are in their 50s, 60s or 70s. Many have disabilities. Many are have just stuck their neck and legs out to do something generous for their favorite charity or in memory of a lost loved one. Many come across that finish line with a death-grip around their friends and tears pouring down their faces. It is by far, the most inspiring, emotional and motivating experience I witness throughout the year. Confession time. I do a lot of boo-hooing too. In fact, at this past weekend’s Tinkerbell Half-marathon at Disneyland in California, I leaned over the little fence to hug about 50 finishers. I couldn’t help myself!

I ran my race with few obstacles. I needed a Band-Aid for a pinky toe, which was forming a blister around mile four. My right knee hurt a bit, and I became a little ornery around mile 11. Apologies to those around me who had to hear me use the “F” word a few times. (I tried to keep it down low, but apparently cursing makes me feel a little better.) But really, the race was a good time for me and qualified as an incredibly fun morning. The back-of-the-packers though, you could see it in their faces. They had a life-changing experience.

So what do I want you to do with this information? Well, if you do a runDisney race of any distance and finish quickly, stick around to the end. Your cheers are valuable and you’ll gain more than you give by doing so. If you’d like to try a race and worry you won’t finish quickly or finish fast enough? Fear not. You’ll find yourself surrounded by other courageous fitness heroes like yourself who found the determination and discipline to accomplish something magnificent, even if the odds seem stacked against you. And to add a little cherry on top, I promise to be there at that finish line leaning over the fence like a goofball to give you a congratulatory hug.

Did you know that at runDisney races, the final finisher receives the same rock star treatment as the first? No joke. Your arrival will be heralded by the spectacular runDisney race announcers Rudy Novotny and Carissa, while Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy escort you across the finish line. Cue the confetti, you did it!

These two videos above show Kim Allen, the final Tinkerbell finisher crossing the line and being interviewed about her experience. What a star!

ALSO READ: runDisney Tinkerbell: My 2nd Half Marathon Without Training. Am I Awesome or an Idiot?

Check out 100+ photos of the inspirational back-of-the-packers in this gallery.

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Compliment your running with a core training DVD by #team runDisney member Fitz!

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