Runner Glad to Finish Second

Here is the story that I shared in my message, “Aiming for Second Place,” this weekend that gives us a picture of what it looks like to aim for second place:

Oscar Fernandez AnayaWhen Abel Mutai of Kenya – an Olympic bronze medalist – was near the finish line at a cross country race in Burlada, Navarre (nah – VAR), Spain, this past December, he slowed down to celebrate his victory. There was just one problem with his celebration: he hadn’t crossed the finish line yet but was about 10 meters away. Fans nearby began to call out to Mutai in Spanish but, since he doesn’t speak Spanish, he did not understand what they were saying.

The next closest runner, Iván Fernández Anaya, quickly caught up with him, and then did something that was absolutely right yet cuts against the tendencies of competition. Instead of exploiting Mutai’s mistake to speed past and claim an unlikely victory, Fernández stayed behind and, using gestures, guided the Kenyan to the finish line, letting him win first place and taking second himself.

When asked afterwards why he did what he did, Fernández said: “”I didn’t deserve to win it. I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner. He created a gap that I couldn’t have closed if he hadn’t made a mistake. As soon as I saw he was stopping, I knew I wasn’t going to pass him.”[1]

[1] “Ivan Fernandez Anaya, Spanish Runner, Intentionally Loses Race So Opponent Can Win.” Huffington Post Online. Accessed July 13, 2013.

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