Kipwil had signed up for a challenge of three races of 12.7 Km each. She had run two of these, up the Hill of Heroics, improving on her time each race. Now it was time for the third and last race.
The night before, rain flooded down from the sky, lightning flashed and thunder grumbled. Kipwil was worried.
" Hubba Hubba, is it going to rain tomorrow? I hate running in the rain...my glasses fog up and I can't see where I'm going!" said Kipwil as they sat together on the couch watching TV.
" I don't know, do you want to cancel?" Hubba Hubba replied.
" No", said Kipwil firmly," I said I'd do it and I will. I'll wear my new JFDI hat and the Vic crew uniform shirt, that should help keep the rain out of my eyes at least."
The day dawned gloomily and threateningly. Kipwil kept casting glances to the sky as they drove to the starting line. It was surprisingly empty. A tree next to the river start line noticed Kipwil and her family standing looking lost. It shivered and out of the trunk stepped a gnarled figure of a man, small and knotty. His hair and eyes were a living brown colour, his skin and clothes, he was a picture of every shade of brown you could think of, but glimmering with contained power of life. It was a tree spirit, known to help those lost in the bush and in need. kipwil had no idea why it was here in the city so far from home but she was glad to see him.
" The track has been flooded, the Hill of Heroics cannot be negotiated" it crackled to her in a dry whispery voice.
" Oh no!!! Has the race been cancelled then?" exclaimed Kipwil.
" The race is still being held, but you must walk further along the path to the Great Garden. There the race will be run." crinkled the whispery voice again.
" Thank you," said Kipwil bowing deeply.
The tree spirit bowed just as deeply in reply and stepped back into the trunk of the ageing tree.
Kipwil and her family found her way to the start line. The race would now be run in three laps around the Great Garden, an area set aside in the city as a refuge for people and animals alike, to relax and restore themselves in the deep shade of the towering trees or to lie on the soft green grasses near ornamental lakes. There was one problem though. The Great Garden was famous for an obstacle much harder than the Hill of Heroics, in fact it went by a completely different name....Runner's Hell. Four hundred metres of hill ascending steeper than Kipwil had ever run before, it sucked the will and strength out of many runners attempting it.
Kipwil took her place and was soon running when the starters gun went off.
At first the run was pleasant, no rain, shady trees and the fresh green smell that plants have early in the morning filled the air. She rounded a corner and was faced with Runner's Hell. She gritted her teeth and ran all the way up, reaching the top gasping for air.
One down, 2 more times to go Kipwil thought determinedly.
On the second lap, Runner's Hell started to exact its toll on Kipwil. She was gasping when she reached the top and her legs felt rubbery. Her neck muscles had begun cramping and the pain was intense. Kipwil tried stretching the muscles as she ran but to no avail, soon her neck felt like it was frozen facing forward. It caused far too much pain to try and turn it.
She wanted to give up, how could she do that ascent again in this pain? She could feel it throbbing in her ears. Kipwil steeled her mind and with tears slowly tracing and drying on her cheeks she kept on running.
The thrid time up Runner's Hell, Kipwil was barely jogging. Her feet shuffle ran upwards her eyes cast downwards, her chest screaming in pain.
I could walk faster than this she thought and nearly stopped.
NO!!!! I WILL NOT LET THIS BEAT ME! It might be the slowest run in the world but I WILL RUN IT! were her next LOUDER thoughts. Kipwil pushed herself hard and with every muscle in her body screaming.....she finally reached the top.
The rest of the final lap was easier, but still a struggle. The pain in her neck muscles lessened and Kipwil was able to focus more on her breathing. She noticed the gnomes popping up everywhere with their cameras and was finally able to take the time to appreciate the beauty around her, the fact it hadn't rained, the determination and positivity in the other runners and the rhythm of her breathing. A final sprint to the end and she was DONE!
" Well Done Babe!!!" shouted Hubba Hubba as he approached the finish line, Kipwil's children throwing themselves on her for sweaty hugs.
" Oh Hubba Hubba, I am so sore, my neck" she said her eyes filled with pain.
Hubba Hubba immediately began gently massaging the steel out of her neck and she was gradually able to turn her head more freely and with much much less pain.
" That was a great time" Hubba Hubba said to her as she began to relax. " You beat the old time again....1 hr 11 minutes this time!"
" I can't believe it, I thought I had stuffed it up completely," Kipwil smiled,"I can't believe I reached my goal and now I can relax"
" Only until next week, " Hubba Hubba grinned at her, " you have a measly little 10 Km run next week"
" Easy peasy," said Kipwil as she relaxed into his arms. " Easy Peasy Japaneezy"
What else is in store for Kipwil in her final week here in 12 WBT land? Wait and see......