Then someone called for the cooks so they could show their appreciation, the applause lasted a few minutes. Then the Headmaster decided to have an early night for the race to start at eight o’ clock prompt, so breakfast will be at the earlier time of seven o’clock.
The next morning the weather was dry, with a watery looking sun shining its pale light as if it were still sleepy, the contestants doing warm up exercises the minutes were racing past as they waited for Peter to hand out the course maps. These had been kept by Mr Young.
The checkers left for their separate positions all had been given instructions not to indicate the next position on the maps. The only complete maps were handed to the contestants. Each start to be separated by five minutes Josh to start last. Ahead of Josh would be Harry.
Mr Grimly was to start first then all the other contestants in order of merit. Two checkpoints held a supply of fresh cold water to quench their thirsts. The first runner to be out of sight, a full minute before the next runner starts.
Eight o’clock on the dot Mr Grimly left the starting blocks disappearing in four and a half minutes. Then Tucker on the starting blocks ready five four three two one go e five minutes past eight. Maurice did a few stretches for his leg muscles exactly eight ten charged off the blocks like a thunderbolt. Eight fifteen Mark left the blocks to a small cheer. Rupert took to the blocks Eight twenty to shouts of beat them Blocky. Then off went Harry. Finally Josh left Eight thirty.
By the first check point Josh was up a full minute on all the others except one, Mr Grimly was up two minutes. The next two check points will show because most of the course is up hill. I am the last so you can go on to the cliff and enjoy the abseil.
The third stop water was available Tucker had drunk too much, later he would suffer pains the others drunk modestly Harry and Josh made up more time by just washing their mouths’ out and spitting out the water then taking a small sip. Mr Grimly is setting a very fast pace with another minute gained in the next leg was the first obstacle; a sharp turn left off the track then climb over three fallen tree trunks, then walk over a trunk over a ravine, follow the right path jump a ditch then return to the path and carry on the race.
Maurice found Tucker being sick just before the trunk crossing over the ravine. ‘I can’t cross the tree!’ ‘Yes you can stand up put your hands on my shoulders and look at the back of my head and walk left, right, left, right keep going it is a good job the sun is shining it has kept the rain off, that’s it! We are over; let’s go before the others see us. Jogging for a minute now increase the pace and pull ahead of me.’
Tucker could see Mr Grimly sitting on the top of a hill across a valley looking at his map he is two miles ahead of me because I have to run down into the valley and up the other side. I waved then set off down the long slope. Two minutes later I glanced back he was waving to Maurice. Seven minutes later Rupert and Mark came into view, Mark limping and Rupert supporting him.
Tucker started to feel better so increased his pace to a run over the switch backs of the climb, on one of the crests he could see Harry in the distance and only a minute.