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Essay

My upside-down marathon

By Kip A. Cates

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Running has been part of my life ever since I was a child. When my brother and I were small, we chased each other round the neighborhood and never got tired. In elementary school, I loved to run and usually did well on Sports Days. I was proud of my speed and was always able to outrun the bullies who tried to catch me!

In high school, I found a great role model — "Kip" Keino, a Kenyan track and field champion. Keino won gold medals at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and the 1972 Olympics in Germany. His real name was Kipchoge but everyone called him Kip — just like me!

I continued my running career at college. Each year, our university organized a relay race from downtown to our campus. Over 70 teams took part. One year, our team finished in seventh place!

Once I became a teacher, my lifestyle changed drastically. Instead of running free outdoors, I spent my time standing in classrooms, sitting in meetings and staring at computer screens.

When I first arrived in Japan, a friend invited me to join a local 5-kilometer "marathon." My wife and I decided to give it a try. About 100 people took part.

When the starting pistol fired, everyone dashed off and was soon out of sight. My wife, my friend and I began at a slow jog but my friend soon pulled ahead. I spent another few minutes with my wife, then kicked into high gear. Soon, I was racing at a brisk pace and began passing one person, then another and another.

I continued to pass runner after runner until I saw the goal up ahead. Almost there! When I passed the finish line, an official handed me my result. The card said "18." Amazing! I'd finished in the top 20! I was so proud of myself. I couldn't wait to tell everyone that I was the 18th-fastest runner.

My joy turned to shock when my friend pointed out one little fact. I was holding my card upside down! The result wasn't 18. It was 81!

At first, I couldn't believe it. How could I have finished in 81st place? What about all the runners I'd passed? However, I couldn't deny the facts. Because of my slow start, I began way behind most of the other runners. Even though I ran fast, I only passed about 20 people. The rest was basic math: 100 - 20 = 80. I was so disappointed!

Like my hero Kip Keino, I'm now retired as a long distance runner. Keino lives in Kenya, runs a charity for orphans and is president of the country's Olympic committee. I spend my time on teaching, writing and research. Although my racing days are over, I enjoy jogging and still dream of glory as a marathon runner!

さかさまのマラソン

子どものころから走ることが得意だった筆者は、来日当初、地元の5キロマラソンに出場したことがある。なかなか快調なペースでほかのランナーたちを追い抜き、無事ゴールした。その結果は――?

The Japan Times ST: July 22, 2016

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート

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