I really like this picture. It captures what being in the back of the pack looks like. This is from the Follow the Leader 5k on April 27. I’m being followed by a Five Star employee (Hayden) driving the pick-up car. The pick-up car is what I call it; not sure if that is an official title or not, but it’s the car that sometimes follows the last person or persons in the race to the finish line. It is multi-purpose, from what I’ve seen. It keeps the course closed; or if the course is open, protects the last runner from other vehicles. It lets the volunteers along the route know this is the last runner and they can come in once the runner has passed, and sometimes will pick up the volunteers and/or race stuff, i.e. water, signs, etc. The pick-up car can keep in touch with the race officials so they know where the last runner is and when to expect them to finish. Lastly (and the one that nobody wants to experience) the pick-up car is literally there to pick up the last runner or runners in case they (1) cannot physically finish, or (2) cannot finish within the required cut-off time (if there is one). Thankfully, I have yet to experience that.
But I have experienced being last and followed by the pick-up car on a few occasions. It first happened to me several years ago, and it was devastating. To make it worse, it was one of the police officers that was working the race, in his police car! I was so embarrassed. Fortunately, it was a Five Star race and those folks are really great and were cheering me on up the last hill as the police car was cruising along behind me at a snail’s pace.
The second time it happened was at my 2nd 10k. This one was in Buford, GA where city employees were in their work vehicles at intersections blocking off roads. The lead vehicle was behind me, and as I passed each intersection, the employees got in their trucks and fell in behind the lead vehicle. Before long, I had a city truck entourage following me the last mile of the race. By that point, it was just hilarious! What are you gonna do? You gotta laugh!
So last Saturday when I realized Hayden was following me, I pulled out my phone and snapped this picture, then turned around and waved to him.
By the time I got to the end, most of the Five Star team and many of the other runners were cheering for me as I crossed the finish line. At least I didn’t have to ride inside the pick-up car!
The best part? Because of the small field in my Age Group, I still placed and got some Bling; so who cares if I was last? Not me, that’s for sure!