THE BIG RACE

Where to begin! Let me just start by saying, we were all there; all the greatest athletes in the world. We were at the greatest competition ever invented. It was an event that brought together almost everyone; from different countries, nations and cultures. You have heard of the Olympics, haven’t you? Well this event is far greater than that. And I was in it. A single athlete, ready to prove to the world that I was the greatest they ever had. My name is Jason Buto and I am a champion runner.

They called it the Extreme Records and Achievements Sports or ERAS in short. It was an event that highlighted the end of one era in competition and the birth of another. And it was done once every ten years. If you came out on top, your name would be heard throughout the world. People would actually call you a titan. And I was there, facing this great opportunity to become a titan. Titan Jason Buto, I loved the sound of that. So as I tell this story, I would like to pretend that everything went well. Am not saying I lost, that part will come much later. But something rather unique happened. One I feel it is my duty to relay to the rest of the world.

First day at ERAS was nothing more than a tourist attraction. The location for the event was a glamourous island that was big enough to fit over 50 million people with ease. It had lakes and rivers. It had two tall mountains and hills. It had many valleys and flat lands. But the most beautiful aspect of the island was the greenery. Whole fields of flowers, lush green forests and carpet like grass. If you walked from one area to the next, it was like floating on a pretty green cloud. To one extreme of the island was a large hotel where everyone was staying. But calling it a hotel is an understatement. It was like a castle with many other castles joined together. There were so many rooms that ranged from king-size complexes to family bungalows and they were all booked out. Guests kept arriving by the minute and they were all divided among athletes, fans, and reporters.

Athletes got their own part of the grand castle, absolutely private, and it was there that I got to meet some of my competition. There was Constantin and his brother Cosmin from Romania. They are the twins who single-handedly ruled the world of martial arts. They were trained in Karate, Muay Thai, Judo and many others. If they stood together, you would be intimidated instantly. They were tall, fit and dressed like warriors. They even had swords strapped to their waist. The next person to catch my interest was a youthful Australian who called himself Yoklosh. Funny name, but don’t start laughing just yet. I have never seen anyone so powerful. He pried open the elevator doors for us and ended up breaking them. And he wasn’t even a body builder. There was a Japanese man called Sansu who frightened us with his resilience and endurance. He was pushed down the steps of a long escalator and he just jumped onto the railing and slid all the way down and continued on his way without a care in the world.

And me? Well, I was the skinny guy who was good at one thing only, something that was slowly becoming a liability. All I could do was run and as I realised, I wasn’t even the fastest one there. It wouldn’t take me far. Not if I didn’t use my head. Because the competitions weren’t going to be as straightforward as they used to be. The creator of ERAS decided to invent new sports competitions that took into account everything in the world. So a runner like me could find a way to win if I use my head. For now, I hurried to my assigned room and away from the intimidation. The rooms were a marvel, all of them with amazing views of the island. Mine looked out on the athletes training grounds. I stared at them down there, involved in jogging, technique practice and other things I didn’t know, and it was just the first day. I promised myself to win. No matter what! And that is what makes this a story worth telling.

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