By Chris Riley
Tom was a fantastic athlete, he trained every day, he ate properly. You could tell by his physical appearance that he took care of himself, trim, well proportioned. He was a true athlete, trained hard and in fact, had won many marathons with his running club.
The Director of the running club asked to speak to Tom, he was intrigued. The director wanted Tom to coach the club’s A team for a local half marathon that was coming up. Tom was elated, he was so happy to be asked, and obviously he would do it, he was so positive he smiled from ear to ear as he shook hands with the director, what an honour to be bestowed upon him.
Over the coming weeks, Tom arranged for the members of the team to meet regularly at the local athletics club so that he could walk them through their paces, he arranged diet plans for them all, he even gave them individual training plans.
As it got closer to the race, the club director came to watch the training session, Tom was nervous and wanted to make a good impression. As the team went through their paces, he pushed them harder and longer and longer, until they were too exhausted to do any more. But they were getting there, Tom thought to himself.
Finally, Tom came off the training ground and spoke to the director, “How do you think that went?” asked the director, with a note of question in his voice, Tom hesitated and then said, “I think they are getting there, I am sure they will be ok!” The director laughed and in a humorous voice, said, “Well don’t expect them to be as good as you, but as you say they are trying!”
As the race day approached Tom could not think of anything other than the words of the director. Had he not done enough? What would the club think of him? What would the club think of the other runners if they don’t perform?
It was Saturday, race day. The sun was out, it was 7am and the warm sun was reflecting off the bright yellow club outfits of Tom and the six members of his team, all with running numbers on their chests and looking like they were ready for action.
Tom thought it would be best to give them a pep talk before the race, so he huddled them together, “I just want you all to enjoy the race, no matter how well you do, at least you have tried your best”. They all gave a big high five and walked off to the start line. As they walked through the hundreds of people all waiting to start the race, Tom heard one of his team shout to him “see you at the finish”. That’s nice Tom thought as he was a lot quicker than the rest of his team.
Bang! The starting gun sounded and they were all off. Tom was soon away from his team, despite all the jostling, noise and sweat, he was off like a bullet from his own gun. He soon realised he was far in front of his team, and his clear mind started to race as fast as him. What if they are struggling? I need to help them, I cannot let them down… Question after question, they kept coming.
He reached a water station and stopped, not normal for Tom. He could feel something in his stomach, not food he had a healthy breakfast, his heart was pounding, he was not out of breath, I know he said to himself, I will wait for the team, they need me.
Ten minutes later the team came round the corner all together, but only five of them. As the team drank at the water station Tom asked them where Jane was, he was concerned for her. The team replied we thought that she was with you. She has been practicing for months to keep up with you and beat your times. “Really” said Tom, “I had no idea”
The five runners and Tom left the water station and stayed together as they made their way through marker after marker along the roads as they got closer to the finish line. Tom was feeling good that he had the team around him, that he was able to help them all, but what about Jane; Was she ok?
As they joined hands together to cross the finish line, they could hear the crowd cheering, but also a really loud voice shouting to them “come on team”, Tom looked over to the left and could see Jane standing on the winner’s podium, her arm around the club director, with a gold medal around her neck, and a smile from ear to ear.