Racin’ Fool

Chapter 42, Blog 3

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang

chuckwells2008@gmail.com

 

The start proved crystal clean, and we slingshot around the turn, sprinting the first 30 meters.

… is THIS the 200 …

I ran ragged.

… focus, man, FOCUS …

“SMOOTH-ERRR!”

“SMOOTH-ERRR!”

The running scrum hit the blend line at 90 miles an hour.

… what place are you, what place …

Everyone pulled away.

… YOU’RE LAST …

A disappointed murmur rippled through the east grandstands as I flailed by.

“Hey! It’s the best I can do!”

… just shut up and RUN …

Near the end of the back stretch, Ralphie whirled his arm like a windmill.

“Da Zolvinski kid’s beatin’ ya!” he hollered.

“I’M TRYING!”

… even the Zolvinski kid …

“That DOES it.”

I flashed back 40 years to the Games in my backyard when I beat Zolvinski – and everyone else. My legs shook the knots. Through the second turn, I uncoiled.

Harry liked what he saw. He shook his head yes.

My strides lengthened. My shoulders loosened.

But I was still four meters behind.

My back pain flared. But I fed off the pain – and picked up the pace.

Now I was three meters behind.

CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!

Bell lap.

… and whom does the bell toll for …

When I entered the turn, a buzz built in my left ear. Exiting, I saw the east grandstands rise as one.

BARKING!!!

Wild dogs had taken over the home of Steve Prefontaine.

I thought I would burst out of my skin.

Instead, my legs responded and damn near left me.

Luckily, they kept attached.

A runaway train, I switched into lane three and hurtled down the back stretch. The barking exploded into a deafening roar.

I passed one, two, a pack of four more and sliced to the inside of the last turn.

Next in third, guess who.

All arms and legs, Franz cut the air like a fan.

I hugged his heels.

Franz clung to his life-raft lead.

My legs cooked in hell.

Who would give first, Franz or my legs?

… my bet’s on German boy …

“SHUDDUP!”

I had but one kick left.

If I could pass him … Beijing beckoned.

Forty meters from the line, I veered two lanes wide.

Franz followed, pushing me farther out.

Then he pulled away.

Twenty meters.

I had nothing left.

Ten meters.

The fans saw and understood.

They refused to quit.

With one gigantic yelp, the crowd lifted me.

Past Franz.

My feet never touched the ground.

I flew headfirst over the line.

Sprawled on the track.

And out cold.

Copyright © 2013 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

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