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SteelEagle

Iron Pony 2019: The Longest Yards

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The Longest Yards!

An inspiring event for most of the spectators, it was held in a large open field. A pony bumbled toward the finish line drenched in sweat and breathing hard, a large, bulky green pack strapped to his back. The ponies watching him cheered him on, encouraging him to keep going and finish, doing their best to motivate him.

A pile of packs that were stuffed to the brim with 120 potatoes sat at the starting line! Anypony can run 100 yards and get a fast time, but it took a real IRON PONY to run 200 yards with a pack on their back! One pony stood at the start with a stopwatch, another at the other end of the field with a flag. Though the time factor definitely called for speed, it was endurance that would really count for this event!

Will these ponies conquer this challenge, or will it conquer them?

Description:

A 100 yard field stands between the participant and victory, and the only thing holding them back is 120 potatoes strapped to their backs (I originally thought it should be more cuz ponies, but hey, it's for fun). The participant is instructed to run as fast as they can to the end of the field and back. In order for their 'lap' to count, they must go around the flag marking the 100 yard point, rather than just make a hard turnaround right at the line. This will seriously test both the endurance and strength of mind of the participant, every step exhausting them more and more as they're weighed down by the pack. 200 yards becomes much, much longer under those circumstances, that's for sure.

IC Rules!

-NO FLYING OR MAGIC

-No physical assistance from outside

-Must go around the flag

-Collapsing will result in disqualification

-Standing still for longer than 5 seconds will result in disqualification

OOC Rules!

-All forum rules still apply! Why wouldn't they?

-Event will run for three days! Late entries will not be considered for prizes.

-Only one post per participant, so give it your all!

Judging:

Judging will be based on the best posts for the event! Detail, proper spelling and grammar are obviously a few must-haves, but the real kicker will be the description of the struggle! How the writer describes their pony overcoming a great obstacle and having the strength of body and mind to be the best! There will be a 1st, 2nd and 3rd for this event.

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"OK now, you got this Thunderlane!" The pegasus worked on physicking himself up for his soon and coming Longest Yards run. "Time to show em' you got what it takes on sky tracks and on the field!" It didn't matter where he was, Thunderlane would give whatever he set himself to his very best effort!

 

Sweat beaded on his brow as he took his place at the start line and the stallion found himself staring down the course. His eyes bugged a bit as the ponies charged with running the event helped to get the potato pack in place. It was a heavy green sack, bound over top of his wings and secured with a strap that went under his belly not unlike a saddle girth. 

 

"There you go bub! Uh..." the help pony glanced at what he'd just helped strap to Thunderlane's back and stammered. "G-good luck out there!"  Even the help poines felt bad to strap so much weight on one single pony!

 

Sure it was heavy but Thunderlane could put the extra weight out of his mind for now. He could feel strength coursing through his legs, back, and neck. The stallion was glad he had done training specifically for this event as of late. Yes he'd still been giving it his all around the flight poles at the Wonderbolts facility but he'd also been hitting the team gym harder than usual the last couple of months. So much so that some of the other 'Bolts had started jesting with him about bulking up to attract the mares. He snickered when he noted how he'd 'forgotten' to mention he might have been doing it for the stallions too. Either way he was pretty much bulked up as much as he'd ever been and right now he was thankful for that!

 

"Down the course, around the flag, and back over this line," The course keeper nodded to the chalk line they were standing behind. "Got it?"

 

Thunderlane nodded, narrowing his eyes on the flag the flapped lazily on the breeze 100 yards away. "Got it." He spoke out of the side of his muzzle, concentrating on the task ahead. 

 

"Ready, set..."

 

Thunderlane sucked in a breath. 

 

"Go!"

 

The stallion reared up and was off! The rear shifted his weight and thus the bulk of the potato pack back a bit, so he could use the power in his hind legs to propel him and the potatoes forward. He could feel his wings instinctively trying to open under the pack and forced them down against his body. There'd be no flying in this event, no wings needed. His hind legs took the extra weight and boosted him forward, kicking up quite the dust cloud around him as he thundered down the first 100 yards.

 

The pegasus' gate was not his usual ground eating gallop. It was more of a lumbering canter. His hind legs kicking off the ground hard in canter fashion and his forelegs reaching as far as they could to cover ground. The gait was slightly odd to look at but certainly helped him to cover yards quickly and disperse the weight of his potato load throughout the larger muscles of his body. The flag appeared before him, less than 25 yards off when he began to blow air. His muscles began to produce lactic acid and he could feel the burn all over! He'd been here before, this was the first wall and he would smash through it!

 

His brows lowered as he grit his teeth and blew hard through his nostrils. He came upon the flag and the pony watching to make sure contestants rounded the pole. Thunderlane charged forward to make his u-turn when he thought he saw a familiar pony in the cheering crowds. Was that his brother Rumble? He couldn't be sure but just the thought of Rumble powered him forward! He'd spent lots of time telling his younger brother how important it was to find what one really wanted and to strive for it. This was one of those times. Thunderlane loved to push himself physically and this was the perfect opportunity to do so!

 

A few moments later the flag was behind him, his hoof prints marking the completed turn around the pole. He now focused on the pony at the line 100 yards away. The pegasus shifted his weight again, moving to center the pack's weight as best he could. His large muscles were burning and it was time to shift to the smaller ones. He used his chest muscles now to pull him towards the finish, making large steps with his forelegs. His gait shifted to a trot and he grit his teeth in the effort of moving on under his burden.

 

The closer he got to the finish line the lower the stallion got to the ground. The weight of the pack was slowly overwhelming him but he wouldn't let that stop him, not until the finish line was in his rear view. On he went, focusing on his back muscles to help him carry the weight effectively. The method of switching muscle groups had worked thus far but now with the finish line only 20 yards away the stallion began to flag. It was the second wall and a whole lot tougher than the first!

 

Sweat poured down his face and flanks but still he hefted himself on. Dust entered his muzzle as he took to breathing through his nostrils and mouth. He ducked his head slightly, focusing all his remaining strength on getting him over that line. It was only ten steps away now! With a final concerted effort he lunged over the line and walked a couple more steps before standing shakily until the helper ponies had removed his pack. Once it was gone he felt like he was floating! 

 

"Well, I guess that's that!" He smiled to himself while wiping the sweat and dust from his brow. Now he just had to wait for his completion time to see if he would join the ranks of the Iron Ponies!

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*Submitted for Judging*

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"Ali, you got this." 

 

Those words rung in Alizarin's ears as she took a nervous breath, staring at the last competitor as he finished. He looked absolutely dead, and that made Ali's little heart thump. Hard. This was Alizarin Fruits, though. She was never ever nervous about something as silly as this. If this even was silly. Her short legs itched with anticipation. Her mind raced with the thought of being crushed by these potatoes. 

 

"Hey- chin up. You've carried millions and millions of carts full of fruits, Al. You'll be okay." 

 

"I ain't nervous, Golden. I'm fine," Ali hissed. Her friend was just trying to keep her positive, but Ali was too sucked up in her head. It was too late now to worry more though, as she walked forward to get the pile of potatoes put on her back. The potatoes were heavy, but surprisingly lighter than she thought. She knew running with these on her back though was going to be very frustrating. The rope was tight around her waste, and was kind of uncomfortable. Ali would deal with it though. 

 

The little mare made her way to the starting line, keeping her eyes on the flag as it hung loose in the wind. 

 

"Down the course, around the-"

 

"Yeah, I know, I heard," she snapped at the pony, as she was concentrating hard on the flag. Her back was already tired from the bag of potatoes, but it was too late to back out as the pony yelled a firm 'go'! The little mare's legs immediately kicked out, leaping her out quickly onto the course. Her strides were small, but her little legs could kick out fast. She kept her sharp gaze on the flag as she raced down the long course, and it honestly felt like a mile. Ali was doing fine too, until the bag crossed her mind and she focused on how heavy it was. Her legs were on fire, and she really wanted to walk. 

 

If Ali wasn't the most stubborn pony to ever exist, she would've quit right there, and she wasn't even at the flag yet! The bag wouldn't get out of her mind, as the weight shifted left and right, over and over again. It was like a pattern, and it was really bothering her. So, the little mare started leaning forward, keeping the bag on the top of her back and right in the middle so it wouldn't stick to one side. It actually worked, but it grew more tiresome. Her short little legs kept kicking though, as her body produced an enormous amount of sweat. The sweat pooled down her forehead. She could probably swim in it. Her mane was drenched and stuck to her head, as her muscles ached from the weight. Her little hooves became a little slower. They felt like they were tingling, like little flies were in her legs flying around. 

 

At last she reached the flag pole, bringing herself to make a complete U-turn. She took this time to catch her breath, and she began kicking her front legs again as they were before. The farm pony was stronger than she anticipated, as she guessed working in the field helped her out a little. She also guessed being an earth pony made her a little stronger too. Good thing. Sadly though, she found herself breathing even harder, like the wind took her breath away, as her body seemed to become extremely exhausted. She felt slow, and tired, and she just wanted this non sense to be done with. 

 

Her mind raced. The sun seemed to be hotter than it was, she felt sticky and gross, and her back was killing her. Everything ached, and she wanted to quit. Something in her though burned with passion, as she finally looked up from the course to see her hopeful golden Pegasus buddy. The smile on her cute face was unbelievable, and with a glint in her sea green eyes, Ali knew she could push through. Her heart raced again, as she kicked her forelegs out longer and harder, pushing her little body down the last 30 meters. She wanted to use the majority of her back legs too, as bucking trees almost everyday sure seemed to keep the muscles in there nice and large. 

 

The wind was thick in her mane as she reached over the finish line, tumbling onto the ground from absolute exhaustion. Ali felt numb, like she didn't even have a body. Breathing long and hard, her pack of potatoes was removed and she found herself standing up with very shaky legs. Ali really felt a million times lighter, as her wobbly legs moved her little body next to Golden Daze. "I'm about to amputate mah legs."

 

"Oh, Als. You're being dramatic! I'm sure it's not that bad." 

 

Ali's glare was fiercer than a lion's. That's when Daze shut her trap and looked away from fear. 

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*Submitted for judging*

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Thunderhoof figured this event would be a good way to get a little exercise. He didn't figure a sack of potatoes would be much of a challenge to him, but any exercise was always good idea. Needed to keep in shape to pull the Caravan.

He stretched his hunches, and cracked his neck. This was going to be a piece of cake.

He trotted up to the signup booth, when he realised there was one problem.

"Hello, and welcome to the 'Longest Yards' competition of the Iron Pony. Name, please?"

Thunderhoof frowned. Normally, he'd have his best friend Stage with him, and he could talk for him, but this time, he was alone. His friends could understand his hoof scratches, but it was a special code Stage Lights helped him make. Most ponies won't understand him. He thought for a minute.

"We need a name, sir, if you want to compete...."

The pony at the booth was being patient, but Hoof was taking a lot of time.

He pointed at the scar on his neck and gave him a "sorry" look.

"Oh, I see. Um...."

Hoof held up a hoof and waved it.

"I'm sorry, I don't understa-"

He stomped it on the ground, shaking the booth, sounding like thunder.

"Wow!" he exclaimed "It's like thunde- Oh! I remember you! You competed at the obstacle course! Thunderhoof, right?"

He smiled and nodded.

"Alright, just be ready when they announce your name."

Hoof nodded in acknowledgement, and made his way to wait by the others waiting their turn.

He watched as the other competitors did their rounds.

He recognized Thunderlane from the wonderbolts, and he watched intently as he took on the challenge.

He always admired Thunderlane's tenacity and endurance. He was one of his favourite Wonderbolts, after all.

He watched as he shifted the weight of the pack to give himself a better edge. At first, he didn't realise that was what he was doing, but when he did it again, he could see him get a boost to his stamina. He smiled. He certainly wasn't clever enough to come up with something like that, but he could definitely understand Thunderlane being that smart.

He wondered if he should come up with a strategy, but sighed soundlessly to himself. He didn't feel like he was that clever. He didn't do strategy. Mostly just pure brute strength. And sometimes a little finesse, when it counted.

While he stood musing, he heard his name called.

"Next up is Thunderhoof!"

The announcer called.

Hoof took one last deep breath and walked casually up to the starting line.

The ponies with the pack came up, but they paused. Thunderhoof was so tall, they couldn't figure out how to reach over him to attach the sack. He gestured with his head to say that it was alright if they jumped on his back.

One of them jumped up, and the other hoofed over the sack. It was laying on his back, but the ponies couldn't reach the straps around the big stallion.

This sack was not made to go on somepony of Thunderhoof's stature.

Hoof pointed to his neck.

"But... Your scar..." the pony questioned

Hoof shrugged. It's never really bothered him before. He always pulls the Caravan with a yoke on his neck, so this shouldn't be any worse. It just looks bad. It's an old scar.

The pony on his back scooted the weight up his neck, and attached it there. He had to tighten it to a relatively small size, but it sat snug without choking him. Then the pony jumped down and started whispering something to the other about Thunderhoof's sheer size. He got that a lot. He frowned slightly. He may be big, and he is pretty strong, but he's really not scary. He decided a smile should help them feel better, and tried to emulate one of Flaire's warm smiles he gives everypony. They smiled back and waved as they left.

 

Hoof heaved the weight on his neck a little. It was different when the weight is pulling down on his neck instead of holding back for him to push forward. He noted how it ruined his sense of balance, but there wasn't much he could do about that. He wondered how that Thunderlane would've dealt with this problem. but before he could think of anything, the announcer called

"On your mark! Get set, Go!"

 Hoof started running, and almost face-planted from the imbalance the weight gave him, but he corrected, and started running just a bit slower. It seemed this was going to more about balance than strength, for him. He wasn't the best at balancing, but he could manage.

He realised as he ran that even tho he had to lessen his pace he still moved faster than most because of his big long legs. But, the weight being on his neck, he also noticed his front hooves were tiring much faster than his haunches. He remembered what he'd seen the other contestant do. But how could he shift the weight? It was tied to his neck. Just then, he came up to the turnaround. He wasn't paying enough attention and nearly ran into a fence. He lifted his head to miss the fence and felt the weight shift a little on his hooves.

This gave him an idea.

He turned around and ran back, but this time, he held his head as far back as he could reach it. He didn't think about how weird it might look. Also, it kinda backfired. Holding his head up like that used a lot of muscle. He ran awkwardly unable to see where he was going with his head up.

When he reached the end, he only knew because he heard the pony standing there let out a yelp as he barreled toward him. He skidded to a halt just shy of the finish line, put his head back down, and stepped gently over the line.

Then he collapsed on the ground with a thunderous   W H U M P !   

His legs weren't too bad, but his neck was sore. So, so sore. He should not have tried that strategy.

He felt like he probably made good time, but he was going to regret it for... probably a week.

He pouted silently to himself Stage won't be happy when he can't pull the Caravan, tomorrow. His neck hurt too much.

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*Submitted for Judging*

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For the second time during this event, Feng Yinhaitao was facing the challenge of competitive food delivery.  Unlike the obstacle course, however, this event was focused more on endurance than finesse.  As for the foodstuffs themselves... *What even are these?*  The longma poked at the canvas sack of potatoes, frowning at the rustling of the tubers.  The plant was not native to the eastern continent, and did not feature in its cuisine.  Growing up as a mountain villager, Feng had of course been raised on a plain vegetable and wheat-noodle heavy diet, but his current life in the Imperial Palace had an undeniable sophisticating effect on his palate.  Being friends with the chief cook didn't hurt either in that respect.

 

The loud whump of the previous competitor hitting the turf woke the longma from his reverie.  It was time for him to ready himself.  He hoped his body was up for it, after having given his all in six previous events already.  But what sort of Imperial Watcher would he be if he couldn't push himself to the very limit for Empress and Empire?  Glory wasn't going to be won by sitting around!  Huffing out a misty breath to cool himself, Feng shouldered his burden, and trotted to the start line.  Bit a tricky job to balance the load, but it didn't seem too onerous a burden...

 

"Next up, Feng Yinhaitao!  Ready, set, go!"

 

And he was off!  Not at top gallop, obviously, but at a respectable speed, nonetheless.  For the first fifty yards, in fact, Feng felt that he had to actively hold himself back to keep from tuckering out prematurely.  *Pacing, remember, pacing.  Don't blow away your energy all at once, now...*   This self-discipline was almost as heavy a burden as the potatoes, which past the one-quarter mark of the dash, began to feel heavier and heavier with every step.  Each time Feng's hooves hit the ground, it was as if one more small redskin potato was added to his sack.  Eventually, as he began to approach the flag marking the halfway-point, these all began to add up.

 

*Think of the Empress, Feng, think of the Empress.  She wouldn't have you quit halfway.  You can do this, she believed in you, remember?*  It was this self-same refrain which he'd summoned when things had gotten tough before, and as he rounded the flagpole, he felt his mind returning to it again, as the soreness crept up his hooves, and the burden weighed ever-heavier down upon his back.  

 

Neither process held up during the second leg; the pain and the load seemed to increase at a steady pace, wearing down further and further upon the longma.  Sweat condensed like morning dew upon his brow, dripping into his eyes and stinging.  He blinked, repeatedly, trying to hold on to a mental picture of Yu Yue to counter-act all the nerves in his body screaming at him to stop this madness.  By the time he was half way back to the starting line, the mental exercise was becoming too taxing for him to keep up.  It was all he could do to have his brain keep telling his hooves to take one more step, let alone keep a competitive pace!

 

Saltwater-stung eyes desperately searched for an energizing sight, and found... Yanhua.  His friend, who had accompanied him across the sea and never failed to cheer him on.  That was enough for a few more steps.  The Imperial cook, who could no doubt turn these dubious tubers into a dish worthy of royalty.  That was enough for a few more steps.  A mare who he should probably carve out a bit of time out to thank properly for her support.  Another few steps.  Tasty potato dishes.  Good friend.  The thoughts alternated, each pushing his left and right hooves in tandem until he finally made it back to the finish line.

 

He didn't collapse immediately; he had in fact almost forgotten it was an athletic event at all.  His thoughts had been so narrow focused that Feng practically convinced himself that this was a potato delivery to the Imperial Kitchen, hence why he allowed his momentum to carry him almost to the bleachers before he face-planted in front of the one containing the Qilin.  "Thefe fur oo, Yawah."  He muttered from the dirt.

 

 

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