Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt this week is
The path to fitness is strewn with broken hopes and torn cartilage. Jogs, runs and marathons proliferate and the challenges become more extreme. Ultra marathons, iron man challenges, desert marathons, sequential marathons, across continents all have their place. And all are watched by the capricious gods with wry amusement.
‘You know, Atlas, you should have done one of those race thingies with the world on your back. Bit more of a test than standing still.’
‘You know Hercules you are full of crap. Like those stables.’
‘They were awful. I mean AWEFUL.’
‘Oh come off it. You didn’t even get your hands dirty. Holding up that bloody globe…’
‘It’s just a rock.’
‘Full of mewling, moaning humanity.’
‘True. Having those whingeing whinebuckets unspooling their pathetic lives in an incessant torrent must have been pretty hard on one as sensitive as you . But a run. Now that’s hard.’
‘Yet those humans do it. How? They’re weak, fragile. We need to properly test them. Got to get a few laughs out of them, you know. It’s what they expect. Capricious gods and all that.’
Atlas scratched his beard, resulting in Redditch experiencing what was assumed to be an unseasonal blizzard but was in fact godly dandruff. ‘Give me a mountain and I’ll break them.’
Hercules snorted. ‘You’re on.’
Two days later and word spread amongst the world’s athletes of the latest godtest, the ultimate marathon. ‘What can it be?’ they asked. ‘How can it be the ultimate test?’ ‘It’s just a hill run. Nothing hard about that.’
The prize however was pretty special. A one piece Lycra-golden fleece combo with Midas detailing.
The crowd at the start was huge. The top runners at the front hopped from foot to foot, peering at the low deep steps carved into the mountain side. Tricky to get the running pattern right but hardly a challenge. Laughter and good spirits ensued.
The gods sat atop their clouds as flunkeys pulled them into place.
‘Do you want to do the honours, Hercules?’
‘Delighted. Should I boom?’
‘Mid cacophony, perhaps.’
‘PEOPLE OF EARTH…’
‘Um, you can drop the alien attitude, too.’
‘Oh. Right. Participants, today’s ultimate challenge is to complete a simple hill run. Get to the top and, well, that’s it. So, off you go.’
The star runners at the front looked at each other, shrugged and set off.
Atlas grinned while Hercules cleaned his nails. ‘Not much of a challenge, Azza mate.’
‘I’d say, what twenty minutes tops. I can see the top from here.’
‘You’ve not studied the course have you? A rather splendid set of Penrose Steps*.’
‘Oh you naughty naughty deity. Yes, here they come. How long before they realise they can’t win?’
‘Long enough. Have you time for a swift half of ambrosia shandy?’
*penrose steps were made famous by M.C. Escher in this drawing…