death march of the zombies.

at 3 whistles the corral is empty
the yard is empty
not a soul is in sight.
at 2 whistles the same
at 1 whistle no different.
at the 30 second call dark figures begin to lurch from tents
and stagger towards the starting corral from all directions
by the time the 10 second countdown begins
the first few have assumed their customary positions in the corral.
as the countdown proceeds the others join them.
somewhere between 5 and 2 the last of the 14 shadowy figures has assumed their position.
then the bell sounds
and the entire group begins to stumble forward across the starting line.
walking stifflegged, limping, working the kinks out of their sorely abused legs, the silhouettes are fading into the darkness
like something out of a horror movie,
as the leaders loosen up enough to shuffle into a slow jog.

we call it the death march of the zombies.

it is, perhaps, the most unimpressive spectacle in the history of footracing.
impressive or not,
by the time they pass on the road in front of the house
you can tell they are running.
it is not pretty.
but it is running.
14 of them are out on the 41st yard.
every one has a story.
the story of how they qualified.
the story of how they got here.
the story of their goals and intentions.
every one of them is select.
chosen on the field of combat as one of the best.
every one of them runs on into the cold night
closing on the rare 48 hour mark.
when they get there,
after running for 2 days and 2 nights
they will still not know where the finish line lies.