Welcome My Friends to The Race That Never Ends!
By mark p
I had been dreading this day for a while now.
Today was the culmination of months of endless training.
I had, in my time, run half marathons, full marathons, and the odd 10k race,
but today was rhe race to end all races: 'The Race That Never Ends'.
My training had consisted of lot of solitary running, building up the
mileage steadily, intensive weight training and I suppose eating all the right
foods. My absence from the house for hours at an end had taken toll on my
marriage, and my spouse had left me for another.
I did not care, all I cared about was winning the race.
They call it 'The Race That Never Ends', but that's bollocks, the race goes
on over fifty miles, where the first person over the finish line, whether alive
or dead, wins.
Should you take longer than four hours to complete the race, the snipers
will get you, snipers appointed by The City.
There had been a law passed in 2045, that stated if you were unable to
attain a degree of omni-fitness, you would be shot.
In the wake of this, many people, who is my dad’s time would have been
called 'pensioners', flocked to the gymnasiums seeking to rebuild muscle
strength, and attain race running fitness.
The Primed Minister, Derek Cochrane, advocated some extreme policies: There
was a return to 'Prohibition,’ a strict banning of alcohol consumption,
previously utilised in early 20th Century America, was one thing, Drugs of any
kind were prohibited. Prior to his election, Cochrane had seen some old news
footage of late 20th Century in The City , where homeless people slept on the
streets, angry youths roamed the night streets, exuding menace in their
packs, lurching along under the influence of some drug or
other , the aged sat in what were then called 'pubs' or 'public houses',
drinking themselves to death and they reminisced over when things were better
'back in the day', whatever that meant. The crime rate was horrendous, and that
would have to stop., to be eliminated.
This was not for Cochrane's world, his Nutopia, for any of these offences,
the death penalty, the extermination was the price a convicted felon would
It was however, rumoured that these activities still went on in the
'FH'('Formerly Homeless’) schemes on the outskirts of The City, but that was just
urban mythology, something which had been around since my dad’s day.
I regarded myself in the mirror, I looked similar in muscular development to
that muscle bound actor, from the 1990's, Arnie Schwartz whatever, who my dad
used to tell me about when I was a kid,
I grabbed my backpack, and strode down the empty street, Union Street, this
was once called.
Union of what, I often wondered.
To get to the stadium where the race started, I had to walk through the
oldest part of The City, an area which had fallen onto dereliction since the
millennium year. I looked up at the broken, but amazingly, still flashing neon
sign that jutted from what had once been a 'public house'. I wondered what it
would have been like to go into one of those 'pubs,’ all those years ago, would
it be noisy, full of drunken laughter, and chattering? Cochrane's penetrating
eyes stared out malevolently from a faded election poster pasted to the door of
Two kids whizzed by me on rollerblades, the street was so quiet, I could
hear the whooshing sound as they passed, hell, rollerblades making a
comeback, who would have thought it?
In my grandparent's time, there had been what they called 'traffic' on the roads.
These were motor vehicles that folk used for travelling in but were abolished
at the time of Cochrane's coming to power. They had spewed toxic fumes into the
atmosphere that were not much good to anyone, though my parents used to reminisce
about how much they enjoyed going for a 'drive', in the 'car'.
Today, as in any day, the streets were bereft of anything but pedestrians,
save for the odd 'blader, of cyclist.
I arrived at the stadium.to behold thousands of spectators which was a good
thing, because some of us would need to be spurred on, especially in the latter
stages of the race.
Soon everyone was changing into their running gear and making way to the
I looked around to see if there was anyone I knew.
The smell of sweat, and muscle liniments filled the air, and something
else, the smell of fear, on the top of that, the incessant chatter of nervous
runners, competing for top spot.
The report of the starting gun, a sound louder than any I had heard before, killed
the conversations. Now we were off.
A steady pace for the first mile would set the pace of the whole thing.
I made the point of never talking to anyone as I ran, talk was wasted time
and wasted breath, and time in this instance, was of the essence.
I retreated into the world of my thoughts and composed rhymes along with the
rhythms of my running.
I had taken five minutes and thirty seconds for this, only another forty-nine