Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Last Place for a Reason

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(This story is retold using information from articles at the Columbus Dispatch and the Huffington Post.)

This past summer at the Division III Ohio state championships, one runner ran the best race of her life.

And I am not even referring to the race she won.

Meghan Vogel, in the lead.

Meghan Vogel knows running. She grew up around track and cross country her entire life. And she is good at it. She is only the second athlete in Ohio history to qualify for the state meet in three different events.

In the meet she put on the best performance of her life in the 1600 meters. She bested another runner that she had never beat before and ran a personal best time of 4:58.31, becoming the state champion.

The girl can run.

One of her other events, the 3200 meters, was scheduled to start 30 minutes after her championship run. Megan did not have time to recover from her effort in the previous race. She struggled from the start.

But in this race, her performance would outshadow anything else she has ever done on the track.

Her mom and coach, Ann Vogel, noticed her fatigue early. “By the third lap, she had that look on her face that said, ‘Well, I just don’t have it for this one, so I’m just going to shut it down and finish.'”

Instead of finding herself in the lead, Megan was in last place. Struggling. But she was in the perfect position to see everything else that was happening in the race.

She noticed another runner, Arden McMath, in the main pack begin to falter. By the time Meghan caught up with Arden, she had fallen three times. She was cramping so bad, that Meghan knew that Arden would not be able to finish the race.

So Meghan did what made sense to her. She stopped. She helped. Then she carried Arden across the finish line.

When asked “why?” this is what Meghan had to say.  “If you work to get to the state meet, you deserve to finish no matter who you are. I was going to make that happen for her no matter what.”

Meghan, an accomplished runner, found herself in unusual situation. Last place. But instead of defeat, she saw an opportunity. Later she is reported to have told her mother that:

I think God put me in last place for a reason.

Here is the video.

(If you are having trouble viewing the video, click here.)

Meghan technically finished next to last in the race. But she walked away with something better than a trophy or bragging rights.

She lived a better story.

Has God ever put you in last place? Did you see defeat or an opportunity?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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20 Replies

  1. I’ve always loved this story! I’ve been in last place often and I’ve learned over the years that God is teaching me that it’s not what place I am in…it’s that I run my race with joy and I finish the race.

  2. Katydidit

    Oh, yes.
    I have the assignment of living in a competitive family. We are not all running in the same direction, always, not always competing against the clock. Sometimes, it’s more like boxing. I find myself often attacked.
    The best strategy, I have learned through the ages, is to withdraw, not to try winning. The peace that comes from refusing to compete against these people is amazing. Of course, they find me wrong and think me a loser, even then, but since I had no hopes set on winning, I still have that peace.
    Oh, sometimes it hurts. Knowing that my visible peace threatens them, causes them to accuse me more, can make me question myself. Lately, though, I have realized: I have to do something. Whether I compete or withdraw, I am doing something, and it is impossible to do nothing. Even waiting to decide is a decision, you know . . .
    However, since we moved 500 miles away from them early in this game, our children not only have peace too, but also have a gift I never really thought of: they love their extended family. They have not seen the grief, not felt the pain. My joy in being able to give them this wholeness is tempered only a little by fears that these family members could begin again with my grown kids, to attack me through them. We have warned them to take any accusations very carefully, and they have seen how some other family members have not faired as well, and can see through it, but they have the contact, the love, the wholeness that comes from a whole family.
    And in that I can rejoice. I feel like I pulled the fuse out of the dynamite. And I managed to do it in a way that I didn’t even have to be lauded on TV. 😀

  3. Wow. Didn’t know about this. Great stuff! Sadly, this reminds me of the movie Cars because I’ve seen that MANY, MANY times with my toddler :)

  4. Gia Jones

    Reading this story I was like “wow”…Watching the clip made me tear up a bit. I love her perspective…Congrats to Meghan for the “win” and the testimony. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Words2Write

    Meghan understood the reason for being in last place and helped another finish the race. Wouldn’t it be great if all of us would take that attitude?

  6. Mary Hoadley

    Meghan, thank you so much for inspiring me!!! God bless =)

  7. Great story! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Wow, great story, great lesson.

  9. I agree. It’s a choice each of us has the opportunity to make.

  10. To Meghan it seemed like no big deal. It just made sense. But so often we just walk by when someone needs help.

  11. Does that include Cars 2? I like it better. And Kung Fu Panda is an incredible movie.

  12. I’m glad you figured the comments out. The name you used is perfect.

  13. It’s a great story, isn’t it?

  14. Reading this post brings out my nervous habits. It’s just…heartwarming. This reminds me of that scene in Cars.

    It probably hits me because I’m a runner too. Cross-country, but still a runner whose varsity won state recently.

  15. I haven’t seen those. Just thinking of the end of Cars when Lightning McQueen pushes the King over the finish line.

  16. Love this story Jeremy. Thanks so much for sharing it!

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