Written by Our aquatic correspondent
Who shall win?
On Sunday morning,traditionally a day of peace,
While others sensible rest,and read the Sunday Times,
When frilly hats and Sunday best
Relax with hymns and prayers,
There is a hill in Richmond Park
That grunts and groans and swears.
For upon this hill on Sunday morn,
Barbaric,basic physical scorn
Is hammered deep in sodden ground,
As if the ultimate were to drown
The very earth in masochistic sweat.
A pleasant,green and rolling hill,
A fair conclusion at first sight,
Embraces warmly its early guests
With introvert shyness and a little jest.
“Come,walk up me and fill your lungs
With air that’s fresh with virgin oxygen”.
A gentle jog upon the hill.
So easy that it gives no clue
As to the rape of its inviting shape
That soon is to pursue.
“Oh,sirs,” so meekly does the hill appeal,
“Why wear you such strange and prickly shoes?
I beg your pardon humbly,but do confess
They’re hardly ones I’d choose”.
“What now?”the Richmond Hill does blush,
“I wish to cause no undue fuss,
But why take you off your warming clothes,
And look at me with such cold eyes?
I suddenly fear the minds behind them,
And what within them lies.”
Deep breaths are breathed and chests thrown out,
As the ground is pawed before the charge.
Then suddenly,the heads drop down,
And wham! In unison they strike
With such a force and sheer ferocity,
That it is plain for all to see,
That words are out,the challenge down,
Devil take the weak,
Only victors wear the victor’s crown.
Shocked by undeserved aggression,the hill cries
“No! Beat not my sod with fiendish spikes.
Drown not my gently morning dew with salty sweat
That acidulates my soil.”
But clemency is not forthcoming,
As after jogging down
They turn again for the run in.
This time the hill with patience worn
And anger welling up inside.
Now rears its back with hidden pride,
And prepares to fight the surging tide
Of human flesh that batters on.
The air rasps out,the muscles pound.
The sinews stretch,the legs they bound,
And once again sheer force succeeds,
As the hill gently begins to bleed.
But now the conflict grows much fiercer,
As spikes are driven deep to pierce her.
“My hurt is great”.the hill cries out.
“But my strength is more.
And I’ll not yield
To man or beast
Who tries to conquer me”.
Twice more her sodden slopes are charged,
Her strength increasing every time,
Until the feet that once did fly
Can lift no more than inches high.
And now with veins that bulge with boiling blood,
With oxygen debt,and adrenalin gone,
The drag their still defying frames
For one last charge against the odds.
They heave,they strain,a frightening sight.
With eyes screwed up and teeth bared white.
The twenty seconds seem like years.
Their muscles tear,the pain it sears
Throughout their limbs,their very souls.
And then a final lurching lunge
As bodies collapse to tortured ground.
The hill,with scars that soon will heal,
Pulls back from vile and violent meal,
As spew is vomited here and there
From reaching stomachs laid hurt and bare.
But soon they are upon their feet,
And their looks are not those of defeat.
“Oh God!” the Richmond Hill does cry.
“Can it be you still must try
To cruelly beat me so?”
“Oh no,” the runners do reply.
“There is no further reason why
We should attempt to injure more.
Six runs were set,six have been done,
So you see,old friend,.we both have won.”
So in years hence while standing on that gentle Richmond hill,
On a cold and winter Sunday morn with no one else around,
And you feel a sudden passing wind,
And hear an eerie heavy breathing sound.
The chances are that ghosts they be.
Of Frith and Ronay,of Barrington and Osborne,of Marsh and Campbell C.
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