The message is clear: it doesn’t matter what place you finish, whether you came in 19th, or 19,000th.

September 29, 2015

The New York City Marathon course winds right by my apartment. And each year I stand on the curb to clap for the elite runners who finish the race in an astonishing 2:25—but that's not my favorite part.

No, my favorite thing about race day comes later on when the runners at the back of the pack come by: Those who push, sweat, and struggle through 26.2 miles just like the men and women at the front, and arguably work harder, staying on their feet longer over the course, after the fanfare ends and the spectators have gone home. I find those people the most inspiring.

That's why I love Nike's latest inspiring advertisement, which honors those final finishers.

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The opening shot shows a few dozen racers heading down on a street littered with discarded paper cups—those thrown haphazardly by the competitors who came before them. A woman holds her side as she continues down the course, another runs with a limp; meanwhile you hear huffing and puffing over the background track. The sun is setting, and clean up crews are raking up the cups.

Then, there's a voice-over: “If you look up the word marathon, it will tell you that the first person who ran 26.2 miles died. He died. And he was a runner. You are not a runner. You’re especially not a marathon runner." The shot pans to a woman with a determined look on her face. "But at the end of this, you will be,” the voice-over concludes.

The message is clear: it doesn’t matter what place you finish, whether you came in 19th, or 19,000th. If you cross that marathon finish line, you’re a marathon runner, a marathon finisher. You got it done.

This is important because when you’re training for a marathon (as I currently am), it’s all too easy to get obsessed with the place you’ll finish or the time you run. What really matters is that you're up early multiple times a week training, you've logged countless long runs, and you will finish the race—these things, not how fast you go, is what makes a runner.

Thanks for the uplift, Nike.

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