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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Don’t Look Back (04/19/12)

TITLE: Nationals
By Tendi Rice
04/26/12


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As I stood there awaiting the whistle to blow, I could not help feeling slightly anxious. I knew I had prepared long and hard for this, yet I still had sweaty palms, flashed cheeks and goose-bumps, all evidence of how nervous I was. I tried not to look at my fellow competitors, fearful they would only add to my discomfort. In the corner of my eye, I noticed the Raintree runner-up. She was petite, tall and noticeably in good shape. I half-heartedly watched her do some last minute stretches, which made her seem confident and presumably victorious even before the race began. She had won the last two nationals, beating me by mere fractions of a second each time and evidently she had come to claim the trophy third time in a row. Suddenly I realized that my mind was drifting and I was concentrating on every negative thought possible. I must have pinched myself to remind myself to be more optimistic, I had to go home as the champion this year. ‘Keep your eyes on the prize’ I began chanting to myself under my breath, almost as if to regain my confidence.bAs we all got into position, I repeatedly reminded myself not to lose sight of my goal.

A few seconds later, the whistle blew and off we started towards the finish line, all with one aim in mind. We shared a common goal, but only one of us would take the medal home. It was in everyone’s best interest to do better than the rest and so we all began the quest towards a prize that only one would claim.

Shortly after we began, some of us started to get ahead of others. Those who were a bit slower were never far off from those ahead. As everyone strived to get ahead, it took even more effort to remain advanced.

I managed to run past two competitors, too engrossed in my own progress to even notice who they were. Besides, I could better use the attention to maintain and even quicken my pace. It was a short sprint so time was of the essence. As I gained on the only two individuals still in front of me, I used every bit of strength within me to go a little faster. I passed the one, and I knew I was getting closer to that title. This seemed to give me the boost I needed to accelerate. I could hear the crowds cheering, probably for me and other candidates, but I tried to keep my mind off that, it was unimportant right now. I noticed the only person ahead of me was not ‘Miss Raintree’ and all of a sudden I realised how possible it was that I would soon be lead and perhaps even win.

Realizing this, I got the strength I needed to go a little faster and before I knew it I had overtaken her. The crowds roared louder and more vigorously, evidently applauding the progress I had just made. I was closer than ever to achieving my lifetime goal and in seconds I could be the next national champion. Before I could finish basking in this thought, I suddenly realized it could be taken away from me. I was still in the race and anyone could suddenly pass me.

Once this thought dawned on me, I began hearing the pace of those who were not far behind, particularly on my right hand side. ‘Could it be Miss Raintree?’ I wondered. ‘Would she snatch this away from me again?’ Perhaps I should quickly glance back and ensure it was not her. I was too close to the finish line to have this taken away from right before me. I could see the finish line and it was barely seconds away from me, but I just had to make sure I guarded my victory.

‘Keep your eyes on the prize’, I almost audibly heard my coach saying. My mind started to argue, ‘But I just need to…’. ‘You need to focus on the prize’, he cut me off in mid-sentence, ‘When you take a second to glance back, you are taking your eyes off the prize’.

As I sped past that white line, the throng roared uncontrollably. It was milli-seconds before the second and third contestants, who would have only been a glance back away from that trophy.


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Member Comments
Member Date
CD Swanson 04/26/12
This was an original and cleaver entry...it kept me riveted as I raced to the ending with a smile on my face. Nicely done and nicely told.

God bless~
Pam Ford Davis 04/26/12
Nice descriptive wording. I am going to share your story with a cousin's daughter who is in college on a track scholarship.

Wing His Words!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/28/12
I really enjoyed this piece. I thought it was quite clever. I debated about using a race as a metaphor too. That millisecond it takes to look back can cost the race.

You may want to shorten your first paragraph so as not to overwhelm a reader (especially with a short story it's good to have short paragraphs) You used the phrase all evidenced of how nervous I was You didn't need to add that because you already did an outstanding job of painting the picture of someone being nervous.

This was a great read from beginning to end. I could feel myself wanting to yell, "Don't you dare look back!" Nicely done.