The winners who finish last

Long after photographers and reporters go home and the cheers fall silent, the best stories emerge from the darkness.

Like Red Hilton, 46.

Thirty-three thousand participants crossed the finished line at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Then along came Red.

She was running her first marathon ever. And she finished last, crossing the line some nine hours after starting, only her son, and maybe the construction workers taking down the staging, to greet her triumph, says.

“The time will never matter,’’ she said. “It’s the fact that I finished.’’

“I didn’t come this far to come this far,” she said she told herself during her journey.