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December 14th, 2017

The Great Race!

By G. E. Shuman
On May 11th, I participated in the great, annual, Corporate Cup foot race in Montpelier. This is the second year in a row that I have run in that race with my daughter, Emily. Okay, so I didn’t exactly run in the race. In fact, I didn’t run at all. I tried running once when I was a kid, and I didn’t like it.

Truthfully, Emily and I did walk the entire course, and she made very good time. I thought that I also was doing quite well, until the truth of just how far three miles is, set in. It is a long way for a desk jockey, computer ‘composer’, or sedentary high school teacher to walk. If you happen to be all three of those, I think you’re sunk before you begin that race. I am all three. (Thank the Lord for vehicles.)

One difference with Emily and I walking the race this year is that she also had the delightful burden of my nine-month-old granddaughter Nahla in a pack on her back. I had offered to wear the backpack and that beautiful child, and I soon became very happy that she didn’t take me up on that offer.

In the first mile or so of the race, everything was fine. I wasn’t even breathing hard, and had fun playing with the baby. People walking with us marveled at Emily’s pace and endurance while carrying her child. Someone jokingly said that she should get 10 seconds off her time. I said that strollers should be allowed in the race. Very soon after this we met up with the first of the runners, as they were on their way BACK, toward the finish line. I couldn’t believe that, and was tempted to turn around and run back with them. Who would have known? I would be a hero, I thought. Okay, well, maybe not.

Before long, at the 1.5-mile mark or so, things got a little harder for me. Although Montpelier seems to be fairly flat territory, it is still in Vermont, and therefore there are ups and downs. I soon began to think that the upward inclines outnumbered the downward ones. Since the race ended at nearly the same spot on State Street as it began, I knew in my head that this was impossible. I knew in my legs and feet that the laws of physics must be wrong.

Then things seemed to get a lot harder. Twice, at least, Emily and Nahla waited on the sidewalk for “Grampy” to catch up with them. After that they sort of just left me in the dust, not that I could blame them.Ę

To make the recollection of a long, step by step, story shorter, I’ll cut to the chase. (Pun intended.) Actually, I was chased, and was more than embarrassed when people started passing me on that last long hill. You see, people who were much bigger than me passed me. (Yes, there are some of those.) Then some people who were definitely older than me passed me. (Yes, there are some of those, too.) Then, and I’m not joking, some people who were bigger AND older than me passed me. Wow.

At this point I began looking behind me, and down that hill, to make sure that at least some people were still left back there. I thought that if they were still behind me, they were probably anxious to get on the bus back to their elder care facility after the race. In any case, it would not do for me to be the last person across that finish line, and I did not intend to let that happen, even if it meant changing shirts and ducking into the crowd. (I’m not above doing such a thing.)

I proceeded up the hill, around the last bend in the road, and down toward State Street and the finish line, but not before being passed, (I’m not kidding.) by at least one pregnant lady and an older woman with a cane, which I felt like taking away from her. I did eventually make it across the finish line, (without cheating) and was not even the last to do so.

It’s been a week, at this writing, since the race, and my feet are just beginning to forgive me for torturing them so. By this time next year, I will probably have forgotten the pain, and will sign up for the great event of the Corporate Cup once more. Hopefully the rules will change, so that we can bring two strollers; one for Nahla, and one for Grampy.

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