You know that feeling when you’re about to do something totally immature? That’s kind of how it felt lining up at the start line of the All-Canadian Run last Wednesday.
A maze of balance boards, hockey nets and Timbits lay in front of me, a setup the likes of which I hadn’t seen since high school freshie week. On the sidelines, three of my fellow Omega editors stood, cameras and voice recorders at the ready and shit-eating grins fully in place. I hadn’t been able to talk a single one into running with me.
The starter raised her whistle and I crouched down, flanked by my competitors.
“On your mark, get set, go!”
And we were off.
I was a little slow out of the gate, probably held back by the lingering feeling of “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
I rushed to the first table, jammed a hockey helmet on my head and made for the log run. Skipping across the narrow board, I saw the competitor on my left fall off. Second place was mine.
The next station was a hockey shootout. Two shots in net and you were past. Reaching down, I grabbed a hockey stick an instant after my competitor in the blue t-shirt and lined up my shot.
A swell of victory hit me when I was the first to sink the ball into the net. This was it! I was owning this thing!
The pressure must have gotten to me, because I missed the next three, one really embarrassingly from about two feet away.
I could hear my editor, Sean Brady, laughing as he gleefully snapped shots.
What can I say? Wayne Gretzky I am not.
By the time I got to the next station (panhandling fake coins out of two Rubbermaid buckets filled with muck) my two competitors were far ahead. One was already past the station and onto the last challenge.
Frantically grabbing the pan, I was momentarily confused by the lack of holes. I was pretty sure there were supposed to be holes. How was the water supposed to drain out if there were no holes?
In the end, I ended up just scooping muck into the pan and feeling around with my hands. Not pretty, but it worked.
Finally, I was at my last obstacle, the final chance to make up some ground. Five Timbits sat waiting for me. I had barely stopped moving before shoving the first one in my mouth.
My hands were covered with rust and shiny with metal flecks when I looked down at them. I wondered how much metal I was eating with the Timbit, but didn’t think about it too hard.
“What’s a little iron oxide between friends?” I thought, not willing to give up on the race for the sake of a little rust.
Chewing frantically, I snuck a look at my competitor’s plates. Both were farther than me, but I was catching up. I picked up a third and fourth Timbit. The competitor beside me still had three to go. For one glorious moment, my cheeks full to bursting with Timbit like some demented chipmunk. I was sure I had it in the bag.
All the sugar must have absorbed my saliva though, because the third Timbit went down harder and the fourth and fifth I almost choked on. By the time I swallowed my last mouthful, the others were past.
I spun and ran, crossing the finish line only a few moments late. Still fighting slight nausea brought on cramming fat and sugar into my mouth, I walked over and collected my medal. Hey, third place is third place.
Sharing a glance with Sean on the sidelines, I couldn’t help but laugh. It was ridiculous, it was childish, but it was the most fun I had all day.