Some reactions just can’t be helped.
The Park-to-Park was a charity event of mammoth proportions. It was the sort of event that masqueraded as a means to raise money for the local Children’s Hospital but, in reality, was a clash of egos of titanic proportions.
The Park-to-Park was a 10 kilometre run over hill and dale in the local town. Local runners would train for months, years in some cases, religiously tracing the route in all weather with a gritty look of determination across their faces which intensified the closer it got to the race. After all, winning the Park-to-Park was the sort of accolade that had a double pronged effect on one’s reputation, not only did the winner raise money for charity but they also established themselves as a paragon of fitness and endurance.
Jim Sturk had won for the last 5 years and the rest of the community were getting sick of his swagger. They wanted him to be knocked off his perch so that he would stop giving unsolicited fitness advice. They wanted him to be knocked off his mantle so that would stop trying to get freebies from the local merchants so he ‘could raise more money for the sick children’. But, most of all they wanted him to be knocked off his pedestal so that he would stop running bare chested through the town to ‘give the ladies a thrill’.
Safe to say the ladies were not thrilled and the gesture was not appreciated; in fact, none of these gestures were appreciated by the locals.
After 5 years the locals had become desperate. No one, it seemed, had the ability or the training time to rid themselves of this egomaniac and so they called a covert meeting at the local cafe.
Then, young Natasha had an idea. “How about we bring in a plant?”
The room murmured quietly before Bill stood up, “Natasha. Honey. Plants can’t run.”
The women in the room collectively rolled their eyes.
Bill’s wife stood up beside him. “Bill. Honey. She means bring in an outsider.”
Bill sat down, dumbfounded. “An outsider! Who?”
Natasha then explained that she had a cousin who was a champion marathon runner who was used to running 30 kilometres not just 10, so the Park-to-Park would be a breeze.
The reaction in the room was loud and positive.
“Good,” said Natasha. “I will call Elizabeth and get her to enter.”
“Elizabeth?” said Bill. “Isn’t that a shelia’s name?”
Again, the women collectively rolled their eyes.
“Bill, unless you can run 30 kilometres and win I suggest you be quiet,” Bill’s wife suggested as the women in the room all glared at him.
Bill shrugged, “It’s better than nothing I suppose.”
The day of the race came. Jim strutted about prior to race while Bill looked decidedly nervous, especially when he met Elizabeth, a petite woman with a big smile.
“She looks like if a stiff breeze comes she will get blown away,” Bill grizzled.
“Relax, Bill. Less weight means more speed.” Natasha reassured him before she went over to hug her cousin to establish that the new competitor had a link to the town.
The race started and Jim took a comfortable lead… for about a minute. Elizabeth passed him with ease, smiling sweetly as she did so.
Jim snorted and upped his speed as was able to pass the young woman, but he did not smile at her. No. He reserved his smile for himself when he established what he imagined was an immense lead.
He smiled for about 30 seconds until Elizabeth passed him again and, again, smiled broadly at him.
The gesture angered him and he sped up again; to no avail. He could not pass her…
She was too far ahead.
Elizabeth ran like a gazelle around the hills and dales of the town and won convincingly. The townspeople were more jubilant about this win than they had been in 4 years.
Jim Sturk hobbled in toward the end of the race, complaining of a sprain which prevented him from running at his usual speed. The hospital staff were privately perplexed by his injury claim as there was no evidence of it but said nothing publicly… not officially anyhow.
He was gracious in defeat and informed Elizabeth that he hoped that she would return again next year so that he could reclaim his mantle as he would have healed from his injury. He joked that she wouldn’t be so lucky next year.
And all the women collectively rolled their eyes.