Jason’s sneaker hit the pavement. He lengthened his stride. Pushed himself harder. Had to go faster. He just completed the second to last lap around the track. One more lap to go. He blew past everyone – everyone except for Mark, his one and only rival, his only true competition.
Jason and Mark were both star runners on the all-boys track team at Jacksonville University. The state championship was coming up. Recruiters and talent scouts would be there. Winning that race could mean sponsorships and a potential career as a pro runner, but that wasn’t all. This year, they were competing for a spot on a new reality TV show, Fastest Man Alive, where the first place runner would win one million dollars.
But Jason was getting ahead of himself. First he had to beat Mark. Only the fastest man at their school would go on to the state championship. And it had to be him.
Unfortunately, Mark wanted the same thing. If Jason was gonna win, he was going to have to push past all his limits and earn it.
He spotted Mark just ahead. Less than 500 feet left on the track. Jason pushed his muscles to the max. Gave it everything he’s got. One step, next step, another step – gaining on him.
250 feet to go.
Jason’s heart raced. His muscles burned. So close. Had to keep going.
150 feet to go.
He was right behind Mark.
75 feet to go.
Mark spotted Jason in his peripheral vision.
50 feet. Jason inched ahead.
Mark pushed himself harder.
They were head to head.
The coach blew his whistle and clicked his stopwatch.
The boys slowed down and caught their breath.
Jason leaned over, about to puke. Mark took several deep breaths, soaked in his own sweat. The two boys looked at each other. Who won?
Slowly they returned to the coach.
“Mark,” the coach said, “6 minutes, 22.7 seconds.”
“And Jason,” he said next, “6 minutes, 22.3 seconds.”
“What?!” exclaimed Mark.
Jason smiled, still catching his breath. “Thanks, Coach.”
“Are you sure? Point-four seconds? Really?” Mark complained.
“Hit the showers, boys.”
The rest of the track team—the “non-competition”—just now made it to the finish line.
Mark turned to Jason. “You got lucky,” he said, regaining his breath. “Next time, you’re going down.”
Jason laughed. “Bring it on.”
The coach shook his head. “Showers, now, gentlemen.”