Finishing last has its own rewards.
A few weeks ago I ran in my first “mini marathon” at work. It’s an annual 23km running tradition that dates back 38 years since the office running club formed in the late 1970s. A dozen of us ran and of course, I came in last, as expected.
What I didn’t expect was to receive this giant wooden spoon trophy. The running club dictates that anyone who spends “longest time on feet” in the mini marathon will receive this honorary entitlement and gets to keep the spoon for a whole year before passing it on to the next person to finish last.
It is HUGE.
What is amazing is that the giant spoon measuring more than a meter is engraved with the names of all the runners who finished last in the mini marathon and dates as far back as 1979! Now we’re talking real history here.
I’m not sure what the carving on the spoon handle is. Colleagues have suggested it might be Maori, Fijian or Papuan, but I have no way of telling. It looks like a totem pole.
I’m not sure why they spelled out my name in full, while everyone else has their first name initials on it. Perhaps because my timing is the longest in the mini marathon history, they wanted to make sure I’m never forgotten. 😀
History of the wooden spoon
Apparently the wooden spoon award culture originated at University of Cambridge by playful students to recognise “outstandingly poor performance” of third-class degree classmates who barely passed their exams.
In Australia, the wooden spoon is referred to in sporting events like Australian football and rugby as the team to finish last in the playing season.
In some golfing tournaments, second-last positions are awarded the wooden spoon as it is a relatively difficult position to obtain (if you think about it).
It’s all part of an elaborate joke and a bit of fun, really. And I was about to get my fair share of the jest.
Getting the spoon
After receiving an email from the running club administrator, I went down a floor to collect my spoon after lunch. The first female and male finishers were also there to get their trophies. I had to pose for this photo for the MM club blog.
While I can’t help feeling slightly embarrassed by this “achievement” and getting thrown into the limelight, the wooden spoon served as its own conversational piece as I walked back to my desk with it.
Lots of people stopped in their tracks and were impressed with not only its sheer size but how steeped in tradition and history it was. And the fact that I ‘ran’ the 23km for fun. Not everyone would want to do it.
I even tracked down the last person in the office to have his name on the spoon engraved on the spoon for a ceremonial handover.
I didn’t forget to pose for a keepsake photo with Venn, my running buddy who sacrificed his normally speedy pace to walk alongside me along the route while I jogged!
I have to admit it’s pretty cool. The wooden spoon I mean. Not my horrendous finishing time.
I think for as long as I participate in the mini marathon and still work here, I am destined to always keep the spoon!