For some Bloomsday stragglers, finishing last is the first priority.
No one, though, beat out Jeff Comstock and Scott Brown. The Spokane high school students came in dead last, posting 37-minute miles. Josphat Machuka, the fastest runner, could have overcome them almost eight times.
“We’re not going to get first, so what’s the next best thing? Sixty-thousandth,” Comstock, 17, said.
The pair finished with a time of four hours, 20 minutes. To avoid a face-off over who was the absolute slowest, they decided to walk across the finish line at the same time.
From the moment they had carbo-loaded on a breakfast of PopTarts and Cheese Whiz, the teenagers were determined to be last.
Others are unintentionally slow.
Many stragglers said they were victims of unexpected pains or family members who had slowed them down.
Todd and Mary Neel of Coeur d’Alene had a one-word excuse.
“Diapers,” they mumbled in unison, pointing to their 1- and 2-year-old sons in a baby jogger.
“We had to change them in the cemetery. We would have been with the elite runners if it wasn’t for them,” 10th-to-last Todd Neel said.
Kody Guzman, 43, said she was hanging back because a throng of baby strollers had clipped her feet during takeoff and she had suffered painful bruises.
But the veteran Bloomsday walker also enjoyed socializing with the “much friendlier” folks in back.
“Do you see any of the elite runners smiling? No - they’re in pain, but we’re having a great time,” she beamed.
Ivan Gage was possibly the proudest straggler. The 51-year-old developmentally disabled man finished in just over four hours in his first Bloomsday.
“To be handicapped and make it more than seven miles is a bit of a strain,” said Kay Moore, Gage’s care provider in Moscow, Idaho. “Just finishing is a great accomplishment. We feel great.”
But finishing dead last takes a special talent.
“You’ve got to look smooth,” Comstock explained. “It’s important for other slackers not to catch on.”
For a while, it looked like the teenagers had fierce competition from two 12-year-olds. But the impatient preteens crossed the finish line while Comstock and Brown hid behind a garage.
The four-hour jaunt afforded them a morning to wax philosophical. They debated “the overall theory of life” as well as the regulations for Bloomsday (specifically in regard to Spandex).
“There should definitely be a rule that no one should be able to wear those really short shorts,” Brown said. “It should be Bermuda-length or lower.”