’s Run Essay, Research Paper
Kevin Raybur’s run
1968, Six o?clock in the morning
The Olympic village was quiet in its lazy sleep, but Kevin Reybur was
already awake, and ready to run. The easy 8-mile morning workout
was only a part of the blonde-haired phenomenon?s training schedule.
Later in the afternoon he would suffer through fifteen miles of
pace-work and intervals on the golf cart paths and quiet streets of
the peaceful suburbs of Mexico City.
Despite his short legs and strong upper body -unusual characteristics
for a distance runner- Kevin was really a man born to run. His
specialty was the 5000 meter event. By breaking the Southeastern
High School Conference record in his junior year, and setting the
national record in his senior year, Kevin had the attention of all of the
college scouts and was offered full scholarships to many Universities.
He chose to attend D.W. Daniel University because they had the best
coach in the country; the one man capable of guiding him to the top.
Kevin was confident that he would not only beat the best, but also
be the best.
With no idea of what he would major in, his reality was different from
most of his university fellows: he wanted to win, and that is the only
thought that consumed his mind and soul. Kevin?s performance in
collegiate meets got him an invitation to the Olympic Trials, and by
winning the trials he earned a spot on the 1968 Olympic team. Just to
represent the country in the summer Olympics in Mexico City was
never his ambition. He had to win.
“It?s six in the frickin? morning Kevin! Where the hell are you going in
this rain?” his roommate Bert cursed.
” The gold is waiting for me and I can?t lose time listening to your
complaints, just because it?s wet outside. I have to work hard to
make up for my lack of pure talent.” Kevin replied.
“Hurghf…” Bert sighed and pushed his head deep into his pillow, as he
would do every morning for the two weeks of the 17th modern
Kevin went out in to the bitter morning rain, which quickly soaked
through his lucky golden running cap, and covered his head, which
was full of thoughts only of the rhythmic pattering of his feet and of
the long empty streets ahead. He did not even notice that his toes
were wet and blistered. His shoes, well worn from many punishing
miles, no longer had the cushioning or fit that he needed. A smear of
dried blood on the left shoe marked his latest injury where he got
spiked by Viatcheslav Ekimov of the Russian team in practice the day
before. The rainwater began to wash out the stain and the red tinted
water streaked down over the side of the shoe, mixing with the hand
written black ink of the words “Gold Medal”. The national anthem
pulsed through in his head, faster and faster, keeping up with the
beat of his ever-quickening footsteps. The corners of his mouth
curled up, forming a menacing, devious smile. He owned the road.
Despite his winning every single collegiate 5000-meter race that he
competed in, most people did not believe he would ever make it to
the Olympics. His aggressive, forced stride and his short legs that
had to step quicker than those of the natural runners with long
rhythmic strides, and lean bodies built for speed made him the
under-dog from the start. Also the fact that he was poor and could
not afford a nutritionist or professional level equipment was a real
concern. The university running team was poorly supported, and all
the promised alumni money was used to support the football team,
instead of for hiring a nutritionist and other support staff for the
track team. The only reason that Kevin stayed at UDWD was that Phil
Liggett was the best coach, and best friend that he ever had. Phil
was like a father to Kevin, and was the only person that understood
why Kevin had to run, and why the sport of running needed Kevin.
Phil was a bold, tall man in his mid-fifties that was once a world class
runner, and was now spending his retirement years searching for
talents such as Kevin Reybur. And Phil did a good job: in a year?s time
the twenty-two-year-old Kevin was running like greased lightning,
and taking more records than a junkie in a music store.
As it happened many times during his life, his fierce willpower made
him look ahead and follow his destiny. Winning was definitely more
important than studying. Of course dropping out of college with a full
scholarship in his hand was not the smartest thing to do, so he barely
managed to keep his grades up to passing. But his thoughts were
consumed by running.
The things that Kevin could not get from the team, he managed to
get on his own. Working as a bartender at the college bar was the
best way he found to pay for equipment and healthy food. He would
go to the health center every week and offer to be a test subject for
the student nurses learning how to take blood pressure and
temperatures and get the free test results. He would stay and talk to
the nurses about his diet and ask what he should be eating every
day. After a few weeks of this routine he finally got up the courage
to talk to a young nurse about something other than training and
diet. Her silky long hair flowed over her shoulders to just above her
nametag that read “Faren-student nurse”. It helped a great deal that
he didn?t have to ask her name; otherwise he might not have had the
courage to even start the conversation. He even had the courage to
ask her out. She found him arrogant, yet interesting. And he was a
handsome devil. She gave him a chance, and grew to love him. She
found that he was not an evil person like many people thought at
first impression. His determination inspired her, and she put up with
his need to put training before a social life. She became his girlfriend
and was his full time nutritionist and masseuse. Kevin never realized
how lucky he was.
Kevin returned from his morning run beaming with excitement.
“I?m so stoked, man!” he shouted as he walked into the dorm room.
Bert lifted his head from the pillow and rolled over to see the large
numbers on the clock radio.
“6:45! Man, you were flying today. Did you do the whole 8 mile loop?”
“Hell, yeah! I don?t cut my workouts short like you and the other
loosers on the team. I?m going to kick ass in the finals, because I
work harder than anyone else. I deserve to win.”
“I thought you always went easy in the morning, why were you
“Shit! You think that was hard. I?ll show you hard this evening at the
“Man, fuck you, Kevin! I?m gonna just put on a nose clip and some
boots ?cause the shit is just pilin? up in here. I know you?re lie?n out
your skinny white ass, so don?t even try to pull that ?macho bull shit?
on me. Damn, if you were any more…” Bert stopped short. ” Hey
man, I?m sorry, I… enough about running.” He took a shot at turning
the situation around, to ease the tension. “Hey, that French chick I
was talking to in the cafeteria yesterday invited me to a party in east
wing tonight. Why don?t you come too? We?ll have some beers and
get to know some people on the other teams.”
Kevin hung his head, ashamed. He was not comfortable with being
nice to a competitor that he was intent on destroying in only a few
days. They were all his enemies.
“Naw man, I need to spend sometime by myself to get focused. You
should do the same, if you care about your performance Thursday. If
you don?t stay focused, come Thursday?s final those Russian guys are
gonna beat you like a naughty monkey at the Gypsy Ball”
This kind of attitude kept many people from trying to get close to
Kevin. If he knew how to show a little kindness and humility, his
achievements could have made him a very popular star. But no
matter how many races he won, and no matter how dedicated he
was to the sport, he could not earn the respect of his teammates.
Kevin Reybur did not care. He just wanted to win, and for as long as
he was winning the races and his specially prepared menu was still
working, absolutely nothing could bother him. Kevin did not have time
Kevin kept pretty much to himself for the few days before the finals.
He looked forward to seeing Faren on Thursday. She was flying in
with his parents to watch his race and cheer him on. He kept to the
meal plan that she had made for him, and slept every hour that he
was not training, eating, or thinking about training and eating… and
Kevin had done everything that he knew to do to prepare for this
moment. He decided long ago that this was the calling of his life. He
packed away his warm-up suit with his watch and ID tag and training
shoes. He slowly zipped the contents inside, deliberately, as if there
would no longer be needed. It was race time.
Kevin made his way to the start line just like he had hundreds of
times before. But this time it was different. His movements were
mechanical, practiced and thoughtless. He made no notice of any
other competitor on the track. This was not about them. It was
about gold; gold that he had promised himself 15 years ago; his gold.
Time stood still as he was caught by the boldness of the solid white
line before him. “START” was spelled out in palm sized print letters. A
chill darted down his spine, first ice cold, then numbing warm and
fuzzy. A flush came over his face and neck and he became dizzy and
weak. He could hear nothing but the beating in his own heart and the
flood of warm water caving upon him. His knees began to wobble, and
then he remembered to start breathing again. “It?s really happening,”
he said, not to himself, but not to anyone else either. A rush of
freight overtook him. Would they start this race while he was still in
this state of slow motion? He looked up, and around and stood
straight tall and turned round full-circle soaking up the moment and
the energy of the crowd. He breathed deep and yelled at the top of
his lungs with the eyes of a frightened lunatic. He didn?t even notice
that everyone had turned to look at him. At once his head cleared
and he breathed rapidly. His heart pounded, and he cried a single
tear. He was back to the real world now. Sweat filled his brow and
flushed the demons with it. He looked up into the stadium seats and
searched for the American flag. Faren yelled “Go Kevin!” His eyes
followed the voice, and found the flag and Faren beneath it. “Bring It
Home!”, shouted mom and dad standing gloriously at Faren?s side.
“Bring it home.” He mouthed the words back, though no sound came
He looked at the start line a second time, and the monster was no
longer there. Kevin looked straight ahead. The corners of his mouth
curled up, forming a menacing, devious smile.