Photo Finish
Rachel, Age 13, Doylestown, PA

It was a gold-medal perfect day. A brilliant blue sky dotted with fluffy cotton candy clouds perfectly exposing the beaming rays of the tawny sun. As we jogged along the hot black top that cried as our spikes smashed the ground, I noticed athletes sprinting to the finish line and the crowd cacophonously bellowing in the stands. Arguing spectators and concentrating coaches as well as the shot of a gun welcomed us into Franklin Field.

This inviting environment quickly changed as I took off....My left foot was right at the cloud-white line with my knee bent and my right leg extended behind me. I gripped the cherry-red, marshmallow-white, and royal blue baton decisively. Patiently, I stared into the distance, anxious and jumpy and ready. There was no time to waste; it was go hard or go home. Lanes one through nine were occupied and everyone was in their running stance. It started with a BANG! Fast arms and fast legs, I tore towards Brooke. One step at a time, I felt my vibrant purple and neon green spikes, running shoes with sharp screws at the front, hit the blazing hot, rubbery red track. The crowd bellowed and chanted and jumped to their feet in amazement. The whole world stopped and stared to gaze intently at the race. Legs pumping, sweat dripping, I sprinted to Brooke, a tall brunette, as if my team was the only one running.
“Stick!” I hollered.

Brooke stuck her left hand out as I said the word like our twin telepathy was powered on. She clenched the baton and sliced down the straight away. Watching from behind, I saw the other teams struggling to catch up. Brooke hit the lemon yellow triangle and Anne Jeanette was off.

“Stick!” she informed.

Anne Jeanette rounded the bend with no one by her side. Next, Kiernan went out. The baton was handed off, and she was vanished. Astonished by all the commotion, I couldn’t believe that a Saint Jude’s runner, surreptitiously sneaking, had caught up to us. She must have been six feet tall compared to Kiernan. It was a tight race, which caused pandemonium in the audience. Arms pumping, spikes digging, Kiernan battled to the finish line, which ended up as a photo finish. We impatiently waited until the loud speaker listed out the top nine teams who would move onto the finals. Finally, it was the moment we had all been waiting for…

“In ninth place with a time of 55.11, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and in eighth place, with the same exact time, 55.11, Saint Jude,” exclaimed the announcer.

The order continued on, all the way down to first place. Hopeful, I wished we could have quelled Saint Jude; however, we all put 110% effort into our race, and we thankfully made it to the finals. Laughter ringing, runners hugging, we celebrated our remarkable victory. It was in that moment when I realized that effort pays off and friendship goes a long way. This moment was perfect. I wish it could have lasted forever.

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