The Hard Call
I’m not sure why I’m telling this story, but I’m going to tell it anyway.
I think it’s a sort of a blokie story, but I’m not sure?
It’s a New Zealand story though, so if you’re not from around this part of the world, it might not mean too much to you.
This goes back to my days at High School, and I have to tell you, they might be the best days of my life.
I’m a sporty type of person. Give me a sport and I’ll have a go, and that’s what was expected at school. Just have a go, and see how you get on.
Not, that I like to blow my own trumpet, but I discovered I was a good middle-distance runner, and by the time I got to the 5th form, it was a competition between me and one other guy as to who would win those races, on Sports Day.
When I look back, this is kind of interesting. We also had house teams, and for what ever reason we had four teams in our school. Some of the kids belonged to those teams because their Mum and Dad had been there before them. Some, like me, were just random members of the team.
It wasn’t only a case of what sports I participated in, I also liked watching, what other students were up to, and of course, the points board, which showed, which house was in the lead to be the champions. (I probably shouldn’t say this, but by that stage, I might have been looking at the girls too.)
This particular day, it was a beautiful sunny day, the spectator stands were crowded with parents and relatives, and there was a bit of a carnival atmosphere going on around me, but I had two races to focus on, and not to go into too much detail, but I had worked up to this.
First up was the 800 metres, and the one person who I knew could beat me took off like a rocket. I went after him, but that wasn’t something I’d trained for, and the body didn’t cope with that, and of course I might have been a close second, but I didn’t win the race.
Teachers are fair, so they space these races out, and I had time between the 800 and 1500 to recover. They always ran the 1500 at the end, and to be fair, it is not the most entertaining race in the world.
But this is where the day took a twist.
The programme was about to go into the 400 metres boy’s baton relay, which of course is a house competition. The house captain races up to me and says, one of our relay guys is injured, and we need a runner.
Hey, I’m not that fast over the hundred, and I told him that, but he said, it doesn’t matter, we need you now, the race is about to start.
It was always a race I enjoyed watching, but one I knew I would never be part of, for obvious reasons, but right them I had to make a choice, taking on this race which would slow me down for the 1500, or having an opportunity that I might otherwise never have.
My Captain was waiting for an answer, and expectant of cooperation.
Ok, I’ll do it.
With me running one hundred metres of that race, we didn’t have a shit show in hell of winning, but we got points for participating, but that’s ok, I helped the team, even if it was an embarrassing slow effort over my hundred metres.
But here’s the next twist to this story. My competition doesn’t front for the 1500 metres. Wahoo, I’m going to write history in the school annual here.
The race went fine according to my planning, until near the end, when this forth former comes out of no where and steals the race off me.
Two seconds, for the day, after months of hard work.
Then I realised, these two guys, that had won both these two races, were on the same team.
I’d been shafted by tactics, and I would have been, even if I hadn’t helped my house team.
It was probably one of the most confusing days of my life.
But two things.
I’ve never forgotten this.
And I’ve never discussed it with anyone since.