I like the ambiguous ending. The first time I read it, I thought he died. The second time, I thought he survived. It's funny what a person brings to a book, isn't it? I think I'm more optimistic these days.
I always thought that he survived, but may have lost his mind when Stebbins finally got his "ticket". The last few lines of the story were just eerie about him being able to actually run toward the finish afterwards. This is one of my favorite stores from Mr. King of all. When I first read this story and "Rage" as a teenager, I was blown away by both stories.