Day 32 1st of April
Centurion by Bob Chapin 1988
On the outer fringe of the racewalk scene,
Dwells an ultra-special walking machine,
An enigma even in his own game.
An obscure breed with a special name … CENTURION!
In lonely workouts, day by day,
He prepares himself in his own chosen way,
To excel in a most demanding sport,
Where few succeed and most fail short.
He’s hooked it seems, on walking races,
Seeing old friends and meeting new faces,
Competing at times along the way
In events from a mile to the fifty k.
And his specialty is the hundred mile,
He attacks the space with a confident smile.
It towers in toughness above the rest,
And this is the one he does the best.
Four hundred laps on a quarter mile track.
Nearly four Marathons back to back.
One hundred gruelling miles and yet,
Twenty four hours is all you get.
Few can average the kind of pace
It takes to complete this awesome race.
And though it demands your physical best.
It’s even more of a mental test.
Plagued with depression, burdened with doubt
Fighting to keep from dropping out.
When confidence wanes and you give up hope,
You’re near the proverbial end of your rope.
For a pivotal factor in this grind
Is the constant battle within the mind.
Rationalising : “Perhaps it’s best
To stop and and take a little rest.
Surely I’ve earned some kind of break.
And really – what difference will it make?
But the cost is the danger of losing ground.
While the others continue round and round.
And that merciless unforgiving clock
Ticks on and on as if to mock.
With aching muscles so stiff and sore
Just standing up is a major chore
They feel compelled to struggle back
To the misery of that wretched track.
But if they survive and finish the course,
The bad stuff dims and there’s no remorse.
Forget the pain and the blistered feet.
You’ve won the war and the victory’s sweet.
Then the track is cleared, leaving little trace
Of the struggle and drama that’s taken place,
And a strange perspective makes it seem
That maybe the nightmare was just a dream.
And I’m here to say, “You’ll vow, my friend,
That this is absolutely the end.
And never again will I do this thing!”
But the words have an old familiar ring.
Just forty three walkers, for what it’s worth,
In the Western Hemisphere of the Earth
Have achieved this feat to the present date.
Since back in eighteen seventy-eight.
A prestigious group to be ranked among
There’s Olympic medallist , Larry Young,
O’Neil, the legend from Kalispell
And Shaul Ladany from Israel.
The amazing Price from D.C.
Cuck Hunter with his “bionic” knee
And J.B. Gillee. Since it began,
This has been a unique and exclusive clan.
What drives a person with stride so quick
To seek this goal? What makes him tick?
Well he can’t expect to attain great fame.
And he won’t get rich at this crazy game
But he tackles the challenge because it’s there,
Knowing some will scoff and most won’t care.
For they’ll never comprehend his mode
‘Til they’ve worn those shoes and walked that road.
Now and then you’ll eat in a driving rain,
Learning to live with fatigue and pain.
Toiling on through endless night,
Yearning for dawn’s first ray of light.
And whether or not you try again,
You’re different because of where you’ve been.
And now and then you’ll reminisce
About those days and the friends you miss.
You’ll take those trophies down from the shelf.
“Was it worth the price for this compense?”
But the value is in what it represents.
You’ve paid your dues, so take your place.
The mark you’ve made, they won’t erase
From that list your name’s enshrined upon
With those who remain and those who’ve gone.
And all of us will fade at last.
But our wish will be, as the torch is passed,
Long live the spirit of the game
Keep the tradition . Honour the name….CENTURION!
Thanks for reading a poetry marathon you are now a poetry Centurion.
This was not a April fool’s day joke it does inspire me ; It tends to read like some Christmas poetry I have read.