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Running of the Leaves: Stage One- Ponyville Start Line(Closed: See OOC topic)


SteelEagle
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Starting Line- Ponyville

Ponyville is ready to host the Running of the Leaves once more, the traditional fall event falling prey to some unusual weather down south. Despite the whipping wind and unhappy clouds far off in the distance, the feeling is one of excitement. Competitors exchange glances, taunts, friendly bets and playful banter while hundreds of onlookers prepare to watch Equestria's most storied athletic competition. The leaves quiver with anticipation as racers warm up.

Beyond the normal Ponyville crowd that is itself feverishly excited, ponies from across Equestria have shown up to prove who is the best. Even griffons are racing! Truly, a wonderful day to be a fan of competition.

It is true that off in the distance, the clouds gather ruefully and with seeming sinister intent. A flurry of weather Pegasi activity and hurried discussions behind the scene did not detour this year's race coordinator from approaching the starting line. A bespectacled elderly stallion, he looks out across the starting line and sees competitors aplenty ready to shake the leaves from the trees and bring Equestria into a bright and wonderful fall.

"Welcome, ladies and gentlecolts, to the annual Running of the Leaves!" He started to enthusiastic applause and stomping of hooves.

"The Running of the Leaves is an Equestrian tradition, one that has stood the test of time and is one of our most important events. Today, we will bring Equestria into a wonderful fall and one of you-" He pointed at the competitors, "-will have yourself forever immortalized as this year's Running of the Leaves champion as a statue, a symbol for all future participants and for Equestrians everywhere!" Another thunderous round of applause as a weather Pegasi cantered up to the coordinator and in a hurried fashion whispered.

He nodded before finishing up.

"There is some poor weather deep in the Whitetail Woods due to an errant storm system that Baltimare weather Pegasi couldn't corral. It shouldn't effect you in the first two stages of the race, but once you're deep in the woods, you will be at the mercy of Baltimare's less than effective weather control. But enough dallying about. The race starts in twenty seconds!" he finished and allowed the racers time to reach the starting line. He even gave them an extra five seconds, the pregnant pause intentional for dramatic effect.

"Get ready."

"Get set."

Silence.

He blew the whistle.

The Running of the Leaves had officially begun!

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Sugar Apple always enjoyed a good sporting competition. Not that occasionally wandering Equestria as a mere tourist was boring by any stretch of her imagination; however, nothing can beat the thrill of going up against another pony in a friendly fun match of physical prowess. The purple-coated pegasus may not devote much time towards maintaining peak form, but to Sugar Apple, it had never been about winning or losing. No… such athletic matches were all about simply having a fun time with other ponies,

Thus, today was a big day for the pumped-up Sugar Apple. For the first time in her life, the pegasus would be participating in the prestigious Running of the Leaves. Sugar Apple had always wanted to take part in the competition, but it was only this year that she finally got time off of work in order to compete. Unlike previous contests however, Sugar Apple tried to find an hour each day for the last three weeks to acclimate herself to long-distance running. Used to amateur flying competitions, the pegasus deemed it necessary this one time to prepare for an event, just to make sure she could actually finish the event without relying on her wings.

The mare assumed that even with the modest training regime she put herself through, there was little chance she would actually make it within the top five. Then again, winning was of little concern to Sugar Apple; the satisfaction of simply being an actual participant of the Running of the Leaves was more than enough to fill her with excitement. The pegasus grumbled as the race coordinator announced that the Baltimare weather team failed to stop a storm deep in the Whitetail Woods; as a employee of the Royal Weather Factory, Sugar Apple understood very well that sometimes a freak weather system simply could not be controlled, even by the best meteorologic crews.

Sugar Apple didn’t let the announcement get to her as she trotted up to the starting line. Storm or no storm, she was intent on completing the course and having a good time helping the Whitetail Wood transition from autumn to winter. For what seemed like an eternity, Sugar Apple waited for the coordinator to blow the whistle and commence the wish. After about half a minute or so, the mare finally got her wish as she dashed off along with the other participants…

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Hoss whinnied eagerly as he trotted up to the line, waving at his Special Somepony, Jubilee in the crowd.

His sister was hovering near Jubilee as well, waving a flag with their shared Cutie Mark.

After last year's disasters with Poison Joke, Giant Spiders and the like, the family honor demanded he run this year to make up for his being sidelined from the race and even briefly genderflipped by Poison Joke.

Hoss lined up with the other racers, the number 22 on his flanks as he leaned into the starting position.

His ears suddenly perked at the announcement one of the races would win the honor of having a statue of themselves made to commemorate the race. He HAD to win! No thoughts of cheating entered his head. -The judges made it clear sportsmanship counted as much as winning, and Family honor forbade that route anyway.

The announcement made him nod knowingly. Sometimes stuff happened with the weather. Oh well as long as there weren't tornadoes he was expected to unspin...

He tensed up at the final warning and counted...

Snorting, he was sure an extra few seconds was added just to mess with them...

The whistle made him jump forward from the tension he held. Hoss fought to keep his wings flat to his side as he broke into the initial sprint to get a good spot ahead.

Shanna waved her flag eagerly[colour=#008080] "GO HOSS GO!"[/colour]

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[colour=#8b4513]*What the hay am I doing here?*[/colour] It would be fairly accurate to say that Earth Writer was feeling outclassed as he waited at the finishing line. Athletics were not his forte, it was easy to tell that at a glance. True, the frugal diet and long walks imposed by his new career as a journalist had kept him on some level of conditioning, but long distance running?

The unicorn stallion sighed. It had sounded like such a good idea in his head, too. The Running of the Leaves followed immediately after the Harvest Festival in Ponyville, and he'd been visiting his parents for the holidays. It had been a good year for the family, and in the midst of the celebrations, Earth decided, in a fit of good mood, to get his name in for the Running of the Leaves. It had sounded like fun, and at least some good copy for the papers back in Canterlot could be gotten out of it, right?

But now, with all the athletes around him, Earth Writer began to realize the magnitude of the task now set before him. Not just the physical task, either; this was an important part of the seasonal transition. He shrank instinctively from the good-natured joshing being bandied about by some of the other contestants; he felt somehow that they were an aspersion cast upon his right to be there.

*Easy, get a hold of yourself. It's not like you're the first amateur to run this course; they need all the hooves they can get, after all.* Shaking the fit of the blues from himself, the stallion stepped as smartly as he could manage up to the starting line. He listened with a reporter's keenness to the announcer's weather report. "[colour=#8b4513]Ah,[/colour]" he muttered to himself, "[colour=#8b4513]This might make for a very good story.[/colour]"

With that thought in his head, he readied his legs, storing tension in the muscles to spring him off as soon as the announcer shouted "[colour=#0000ff]Go![/colour]" Or rather, blew his whistle. Earth Writer took off, though by no means as speedily as some of the more experienced runners.

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Running of the Leaves, it was the biggest of all the lame pony races. Ponies came from all across Equestria to race through the Whitetail Woods and free leaves from the branches of the trees to welcome the autumn. Like all pony traditions, it was kinda stupid and at first glance not really worth the time. Gilda was an exceedingly competitive griffon though and there was no greater combination than a race. While this lame pony race had a lamer no wings rule, Gilda was gonna make it a serious competition. More than that, she was going to win. Nothing less would satisfy her.

This was not the cocksure griffoness' first Running of the Leaves, you see. She had lined up here the previous year at the urging of a stranger. She had aimed to win, determined to prove the prowess and cunning of her kind over that of the weak little ponies. The race had not been without obstacles--some of which Gilda herself had underhandedly provided for her competitors--but the griffon had tried her hardest to avail every moment and win the day. She failed. Six ponies had finished ahead of her.

There was maybe one or two of these ponies she had through the course of the race developed a begrudging respect for. but for the most part she was furious at the result. How could so many lame, dweeb ponies finish better than her? She still wanted to win the race for much of the same reasons as the previous year, but now it was somehow different. It was more personal. Above all else she now sought to claim victory and with it make up for her dissatisfactory performance the previous year.

There was more to it than even that for the griffon though. A lot had happened in the previous year. Much of it had been spent wasting away in an underground griffon prison after having gotten herself a bit too involved in a somehow eventually successful bid by certain adventuring pony--who she still wasn't sure whether was an eccentric genius or an exceedingly lucky fool--to take back a priceless Equestrian relic from the Aquelian military. After some time to recover, Gilda had been quick to put Aquelia behind her for a while following her escape. In Equestria, she managed to find and hang out with a couple ponies like Ignition and Pink Lady who weren't so lame as the rest. Oh, yeah, and she also happened to win big at the Iron Pony competition.

Having won both the Barrel Weave and the Tug of War events, she had two Iron Pony blue ribbons. From what she was told there was no other competitor who could claim the same. She was pretty sure that officially made her the Iron Griffon. She had proven both her agility and her endurance to be brilliantly superb. And while in her opinion she was robbed of the ribbon in the fourth event in which she competed, the Cloud Dive (coincidentally won by the same adventurer she had gotten herself tangled with before), by a stupidly biased unicorn, she felt pretty good about her wins. She had proven to these ponies she was serious and she had proven to herself that she had beaten that prison and what it had done to her. She was left looking for even more opportunities to seize great victory. She had finished seventh the previous years, but this year no ponies were going to stop her!

As the countdown began she gave a nod to herself and got into her racing pose. She could do this! Rainbow Dash, Pathfinder, it didn't matter who the competition was! She was the best and she was just about to prove it to every single one of these dweebs who were foolish enough to think that they could take her. No one was stopping her this time. As the whistle blew, the griffoness kick started her run with a bounding leap ahead into a full speed dash. She had this. She was winning and there wasn't anyone who could hope to stop her!
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Autumn Moon trotted in place for a bit, eagerly stretching his legs as a rather elderly looking stallion stepped up to the starting line. Today was the Annual Running of the Leaves, a tradition of sorts Autumn had discovered while traveling through Ponyville during the summer months and it piqued his curiosity quite a bit to say the least! A competition of perseverance, stamina, and strength, that was his style! Thus he was here, standing at the starting line, ready to strut his stuff.

The entire area was filled was such energy that you couldn't help, but get a little hyper yourself. He glanced around the starting line, a few giffons, some pegasi and earth ponies too! There were even some unicorns to his surprise since they weren't really known for they're athleticism.[colour=#daa520] "Doesn't look like there's anypony here who'd be a challenge."[/colour] He said with a whisper. Autumn Moon shrugged, adjusted his hair into two low tied pig tails, the announcer finally beginning the count down...

There was silence as the announcer finally blew his whistle as Autumn Moon jumped off the starting line. This was it, the race had begun, and Autumn Moon was determined to win!

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"The purpose of this race is to remove the leaves from the trees in the Whitetail woods? Wouldn't it be more efficient to remove the leave with a direct force?" Asteria asked her fellow competitors as her crimson gaze glanced over her immediate surroundings. Her long black horn glowed a deep red as her magic enveloped a tree and deftly removed all the leaves from it in one swift motion. She blinked, finding the entire concept of the race a bit strange, the mare always thinking in the most utilitarian of manners. Before her thoughts could drift off on completely unrelated tangents, the unicorn paused and refocused her mind on the race at hand.

A griffon associate had explained that this event brought out many of the greatest racers in Equestria, and a great performance would serve as evidence to the speed at which she could perform her work as a courier. The initial offer was refused out of desire to retain her privacy and anonymity, but the strange black unicorn was coaxed into the race when her friend insinuated that it would be disrespectful to the runners of the race if she thought herself above the customs of the locals. And here she was, standing at the starting line of a race, surrounded by unique ponies she had never been honored to meet before.

Against the direction of her friend, the unicorn stood at the starting line while garbed in the thick weatherproof cloak that she carried around as her protection against rogue weather. She was told that it would weigh her down, and seeing very few racers garbed in any protective clothing seemed to suggest this as well. Still, the ultimate goal of this event was to release the leaves from the grip of the menacing trees that clung to hope for an extended summer. It was not set a world record time, or Celestia forbid, have a bit of fun, concepts that were both probably lost on the business minded courier. Asteria dug her hooves into the ground and thought over her training as a cross country courier, the mare knowing that speed was only relative to the distance it could be maintained. She heard a countdown slowly begin, the black mare wearing an almost somber expression on her face as her body prepared itself for the start of the race.

Her fierce crimson eyes focused on the Sweet Apple Acres off in the distance, the unicorn blocking off all other thoughts as she flicked her scarlet mane to the side. Her consciousness blocked out all other noise as she lowered herself to a proper running posture, the unicorn knowing that the race would start at any moment. As the whistle blew, the tall mare jettisoned herself off the starting blocks, her long lean legs giving her an immense stride in an attempt to get out of the parade of ponies that were clamoring for early position.

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Today was the big day.

Today Lyra the unicorn musician, would defend her title.

Last year, through a combination of luck and sheer determination, the aquamarine unicorn had managed to come first in The Running of the Leaves, besting many athletic ponies (and other creatures) in the process. Not even crashing into a tree, saving another competitor from being trampled, or accidently declaring her love to an earth pony stallion had stopped her. She had made friends, proven her worth and, most importantly, lost weight. Admittedly, she had put that weight back on by pigging out on cake and ice cream after the race, but she'd made the effort, and that was what was important.

Lyra strode confidently up to where the competitors were waiting for the official announcement of the start of the race to begin. She had made sure to polish her shiny gold medal to a gleaming shine, and was proudly showing it off. [colour=#00cc99]"Never fear! Your champion is here! No autographs please, I can do them after I win the race!"[/colour] said said proudly. She glanced at the big number 1 on the sticker on her flank. Number 1. Heck yeah.

Lyra briefly looked for the friends she'd made when she was last here, but she didn't have much time before she needed to get to the starting line. When the old stallion began speaking, Lyra took off her medal; it would be far too heavy for the race. She was, however, carrying a small water bottle attached to a belt around her waist. Last year the Apple family had sold apple juice midway through the race, but Lyra didn't want to waste time queueing for drinks that she'd then have to pay for. The small amount of extra weight would be worth it.

Taking her place at the starting line, she said a hearty [colour=#00cc99]"Good luck!"[/colour] to her fellow racers. Then the whistle blew, and they were off!

Setting herself up at a moderate pace, not too slow as to be left behind but not fast enough to wear herself out, Lyra began looking around for any fellow competitors from last year. She spotted the griffon who had run the race, but didn't particularily want to talk to her. She could have sworn that she'd seen Mojo around, but she'd lost track before the race had started. Oh, and there was Applejack.

[colour=#00cc99]"..."[/colour]

Lyra blushed furiously and moved away from the earth pony mare. After all that embarrassment at the kissing booth...

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Amid the bustle of so many excited ponies, an older, gawky purple stallion wove his way, stuttering apologies and proceeding at a stumble towards the starting line. Good grief, what is this? Wiry and as thin as a beanpole, all knobbly knees and clumsy hooves and undoubtedly more than out of his element--Clockwise had chosen to participate in the Running of the Leaves, and all of the odds were stacked against him!

Of course, that was hardly the point. Life was like a poem, after all; the beauty lay in experience, surely? Even as a timid anxiety began to crest somewhere in the depths of the unicorn's thumping heart, he was certain that this particular experience would be one that he would recall for years to come. What greater honor was there than to assist in the heralding of autumn, which was (in Clockwise's humble opinion) the finest season of them all? Surely the gentle trees would not mind if he were a little bit slower than the rest.

Well, alright, maybe quite a bit slower than the rest. But he had come all the way to Ponyville just to witness the race, and there was no better way to do so than to see it close up.

Regardless of his modest collection of reasons, there was something quite humbling about standing there in the midst of such powerful athletes, and so many of them, too. Clockwise spared a glance to the few that caught his eye, shuffling nervously at his spot at the starting line. He must have looked quite silly, standing there in his glasses and bow tie, and with his unfortunately prominent front teeth exposed in a bit of nervous lip-biting. There was a fierce griffon (at whom he didn't dare look for long, on the off-chance that she might notice and catch him up in that dangerously steely glare) and a strange unicorn wearing a rain coat. The thin stallion curiously watched her shed the leaves from a tree with a glow of her horn, and then shuddered for reasons he could not quite fathom, himself. How curious; how mysterious!

The call of the announcer startled him. As well as he could, the bumbling fellow arranged himself into what he hoped was something of a race-ready pose. His glasses slid a little down his nose, but Clockwise was too nervous to spare a touch of magic to straighten them again, and only barely heard the announcement about the weather.

Twenty.... twenty one... twenty two...?

The countdown began at twenty five seconds--and then the whistle! Dolefully regarding the delay, of which he was most acutely aware, Clockwise tripped over his own hooves as the rest of the racers thundered past him with the intensity of a hurricane. His breathing suspended for just a moment--

--but then he wrested his balance back from gravity, and he found a sprightly gallop buried somewhere in the energy of his legs. Being a little behind at the start was certainly discouraging, but, in the wake of the runners ahead of him, the leaves had already begun to fly from the trees in a beautiful flurry of colour.

Clockwise lifted his head and gasped. The sight was more than enough to make up for it.

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[colour=#ff8c00]Topaz stood near the starting line, stretching and limbering herself up. The orange mare had a sweatband around her ears, and she had acquired a strap to keep her glasses in place. It was just chance that she was passing through Ponyville during the Running of the Leaves, but she had made up her mind that she had to run this year. She had run in this event a few times before back in Filly, but not since she had gone to the university.

The truth was, since she had started her survey expedition, she'd realized just how out of shape she'd gotten. Four years of studying in Canterlot had left her slightly flabby and had definitely diminished her draft pony endurance. The first few days of pulling her cart along the roads had been particularly rough; she'd had to go through much more of her water stores than she had wanted to, and had had to rest so often she had gotten behind on her schedule. So the Running was going to be a challenge to herself. She didn't expect to win the race, but she did want to complete it.

As she stretched her muscles, she also stretched out with her Earth sense. The whole purpose behind the Running of the Leaves was to shake the trees enough to drop their leaves. While Topaz didn't have the same connection to plants and trees that some earth ponies did, her connection to the earth itself might let her 'shake things up' a bit more. The vibrations coming back through her hooves told her that while the path though Whitetail Wood was hard packed, there were enough instabilities to help her out.

Finally, an older stallion came out to officially begin the race. Topaz took this opportunity to use her height to survey the other racers. There were ponies of all types assembled at the starting line. She even saw a gryphon in the crowd! She also spotted a small mint-green unicorn who was proudly displaying a gold medal. Was that the mare that won last year? She didn't look to be an athlete. In fact, several of the ponies she saw seemed to be more scholarly than competitive. While Topaz was more scholar than athlete for sure, maybe she could win?

Her musing was cut short by the blow if the starter's whistle. Darnit! She'd missed the start! She hadn't even noticed the other competitors bracing themselves. So Topaz began running from a standing start, a couple of hoofbeats behind the pack already...[/colour]

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There she was, standing in between the vast crowd of participants. The Running of the Leaves... It was her debut in this event, of which she had learned some time ago by accident. The very idea of the race seemed quite original, entertaining and interesting to her, therefore she decided to give it a shot. Star always adored sports, all kinds of, and running was her most beloved hobby. She was taller than other ponies after all, it made her somewhat believe it would be a crime for her not to practice this fantastic activity. Besides, it was an excellent way of keeping herself fit. Still, she was pleased to find herself in this... 'contest'.

Risi was busy warming up, stretching herself and observing other participants. It's not like she cared for them, she was doing it purely for herself, fun and a tradition she didn't know, but would gladly be a part of. She felt a bit out of her element though. It lied not in her nature to take part in mass events from which she knew nopony at all. The only familiar face for her was her pet, Imperio, a stil de grain yellow Caracara sitting on her back, helping in her warm-up. She brought him to grant herself at least that tiny dose of confidence and motivation. It was somehow calming to know that there'll be someone waiting on the finish line.

There was just one issue that kept pounding her mind. Although the frequency of her visits to Ponyville was quite high, her knowledge of terrains laying around it remained minimal. She found it unsettling. Gazing into the horizon somewhere above the race track she could feel the hesitation and a sting of fear piercing through her. Star gulped, feeling a single droplet of sweat appearing on her face. She could feel her expression becoming pale as she thought of possible consequences... She turned back to throw a worried stare at Imperio, but the only reaction she gained was a silent squeak, which could mean anything basically...

Her inner thoughts were interrupted by an announcer though. As soon as she had heard him, Star turned towards Imperio: [colour=#6633ff]"Go already, I doubt if I'm allowed to take you with me. Wait at the finish line."[/colour] - she spoke in clean, vibrant and melodic voice, although one could feel a pinch of nervousness in it as well. As soon as the pet left, mare turned her complete attention to the announcer. As, to her horror, he spoke of the storm awaiting them somewhere out there, Risi's expression went blank. Barely remembering the race track and running in such a weather? She could only beg Celestia that the path would be well signposted.

Star approached the starting line along with the others. For now, she felt her only option was to stick with the majority of group. After all, they had to know the path, right? Finally, the long awaited moment of truth approached. She took a deep breath upon hearing the most expected words: "Get ready." [colour=#6633ff]"Perhaps it won't be as bad as it looks?"[/colour] "Get set." She assumed long distance running starting pose. The silence prolonged until it finally ended with a whistle...

After a few seconds, there was nothing but dust remaining in the place where she was standing. The mare was gone, along with all the other participants. Somewhere from above, a loud squeak could be heard. Imperio observed the group running away from his current position, and with his extraordinary sight he spotted Star. The pale pink mare wasn't rushing forward, rather running steadily between the other participants. With this last vision, Caracara turned and glided towards the finish line.

Her adventure had began, there was no retreating now. Was she going for glory? Or for complete humiliation? Only time would tell...

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"[colour=#0000ff]I'm finally around the starting point of the Running of the Leaves race[/colour]" Trekker thought to herself as she walked into Ponyville. She immediately noticed the bustling of all the ponies. Her father had told her about this race when she was just a filly, and found it rather interesting that they chose to use running to generate the wind to knock the leaves off of the trees, rather than using direct force. This didn't bother her though, she had read about plenty of traditions from the world over that she didn't quite get. However, this one seemed like it would be enjoyable and something to be experienced first hand. It never occurred to her to win, she just wanted to race and observe how the other ponies act, and what the race is like.

Trekker walked into the area where ponies were preparing for the race, ponies and even a few griffons were stretching and warming up for the upcoming race. Trekker followed suit, she wanted to blend in. She asked a few ponies and griffons alike why they chose to run this year while she was. She got a whole variety of answers from competitive spirit, to habit of tradition, to just wanting to race for no other reason than wanting to race. She was more shocked to find that she wasn't the only pony to travel to get there to compete.

The announcer shouted loud about the race and being immortalized if you won. Then about some poor weather that the weather Pegasii couldn't control in the Whitetail Woods. Having been traveling for so long, she wasn't too worried about the weather, it never affected her before, then again that was when she was traveling, so she always had the opportunity to take shelter if necessary. But still, no weather to her recollection ever stifled to the point of having to completely stop before. Often she chose to stop to get a rest as much as avoiding the inclement weather. And then the announcement to approach the starting line...

Trekker felt confident in her ability to run as well as her knowledge of the course as she walked to the starting line with everypony else. She constantly studied maps and had even been to Ponyville before. It seemed as if the race was about to start. Though she wasn't worried about winning so much as the experience, she was determined to do her best, if only to be a help to the efforts of bringing the leaves down.

"Get ready"... "Get set" ... And there was the whistle, and with that Trekker darted off the starting line with everyone, determined to make this into a memorable experience.

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[colour=#000000]Applejack slept in. Instead of waking up just before the crack of dawn like she always did, the orange mare decided to give herself some extra rest before what was another annual installment of the traditional Running of the Leaves. It was pretty exciting for a lot of ponies who desired to compete. For Applejack, this had been her eighth. Or was it her ninth? She had lost count. All she knew was how many times she had won. Zero. That's right. She had won several rodeos in her day. She was considered by many the most athletic pony in the area. But she has never won the Running of the Leaves.

But that was OK. Last year was her last year of trying to win too hard. She had time after time put the race in front of her duties to remove the leaves off the trees, and much worse--separate herself from her friends. She had learned a lesson two years ago, when Princess Celestia made a surprise appearance at the finish line. Applejack and Rainbow Dash had been such poor sports that race, that they had failed at removing the leaves, got into a fight with one another, and still tied for last. And then last year, when Applejack was so stressed out that she realized she would be better off if she just took Twilight's advice, pace yourself, and enjoy the scenery.

So Applejack woke up late, but still with plenty of time to make the start of the race. Her goal today was simple. Don't try to win the race. Don't rub other racers in competition. Help them out if they're in trouble. And most importantly, don't infect yourself with poison joke to get a tiny competitive advantage. Just concentrate on getting the leaves knocked off.

Applejack was determined to have a good day. She poured herself a bowl of dried apple crisp cereal after making her way down to the kitchen. It was a little strange walking into the mess hall of the barn with light peeking through the windows. By this time, Applejack had usually already had breakfast and started her morning rounds of chores. She felt sort of naughty and out of place for being such a sleepy-head. After she enjoyed her cereal for a good ten minutes thinking about her day and waking up to the moment, she had started focusing on preparation.

She walked to the pantry and took out a few bottles of apple juice. These bottles were not just any regular apple juice though. They were Applejack's special blend of apple juice that provided extra vitamins and energy for days like this when Applejack had to have extra fuel for her day. She opened one and drank it straight without taking a breathe. She threw the bottle away and put the other two bottles in a small saddlesack. She put the saddlesack on her haunches and left the barn and walked towards the orchard. The race ran straight through the main path of the orchard, like it did for several years. She place her saddlesack behind one of the tree along the path so that she could replenish her strength with the apple juice later in the race if she needed to. From there, she took of towards the start line.

When she arrived, she started stretching and doing other warm-ups to get her body ready for the event. Several ponies like her had arrived in time to do their own warm-ups. She recognized most of them, even saw some of them from her apple kiss she had held not to long ago. She saw Lyra in the corner of her eye, but also saw her walk away. [/colour][colour=#ff0000]Was she really still embarrassed?[/colour][colour=#000000] Applejack really was hoping that she wouldn't have to deal with ponies that avoided her presence during the race. In her views, there was no reason for that. And any thought of Applejack not being the most approachable pony in Ponyville would be confusing letdown for her, not to mention a total shock.

Grabbing her number '8' from the registration booth, Applejack set herself on the mark for the start. The whistle blew. And with all the ponies hurrying to get the first turn's hole-shot, Applejack graced herself into a light gallop. She eyed ahead to focus her attention properly. She was not looking at the ponies who were leading the race. She was gazing at the first tree in the tree-line. [/colour] [colour=#ff0000]"Beautiful colored leaves of orange, red, and yellow, prepare to be bucked!"[/colour]

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The brisk, crisp autumn air breezed through Ponyville as it whisked around the starting area, carrying a few fallen red, yellow and orange leaves along its way. The competitors, all with numbers secured to their sides, walked around and talked with rivals and a few spectators as they awaited in the last few moments before the race.

About two minutes before it was set to start, a red Pegasus stallion hurried to the starting area, panting as he sighed in relief. [colour=#ff0000]"Made it just in time...I thought everypony would start without me..."[/colour] He nervously laughed and smiled while he trotted off, then started muttering under his breath as he tried catching a wind before the race began. [colour=#ff0000]"Stupid alarm clock buried in my junk...I swear sometimes I live in a trailer full of useless rubbish...I don't know where I got half of those things or why I haven't tossed them out yet..."[/colour]

He only had time for a brief moment of friendly banter and talking with a few locals about the race before he joined the rest of the field at the starting line. He plastered the number he got from the registration booth, 14, before he lined up with the others.

[colour=#ff0000]This is exhilarating...I remember I saw the Running once as a colt, and it was lots of fun to see the leaves fall off from all the ponies racing...and now I'm a part of it! For the first time...I'm anxious to get going already! Hope I can actually compete in this, though...the event I won back in the Iron Pony competition this summer was an eating contest. Hardly fitting of an endurance race such as this...[/colour]

[colour=#ff0000]Snap out of it. You carry a trailer full of junk around wherever you go. Of course, you'll be competitive, Harrington. Your show of athleticism might catch somepony's eye enough to hire you on...or at least gain a name around Equestria. Immortality as a champion of the Running...alongside Dread Locke, the champion of the race in my colthood![/colour]

Harrington's daydreams of athletic glory snapped as the shrill whistle popped his thought bubble and prompted him to start running. He sprinted out of the gate at first, but within a minute, slowed to a canter, then a brisk jog to keep pace with the head of the pack. He glanced around at the other runners to size up the competition, recognizing a few of them from Iron Pony and raising an eyebrow at the mint-green unicorn with a lyre cutie mark. He shrugged and focused to the road ahead, noting the harsh weather that, while it wasn't an immediate threat, was soon to come...

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Today was the day of the Running of the leaves. As usual, [colour=#008000]Greenshot[/colour] started the day with a bad start. First, he almost missied the train going from Canterlot to Ponyville to start with. Secondly, was not able to get breakfast or even a snack from his mother's pastry shop. When arriving to Ponyville, had just enough time get a quick bite at a sandwich shop and nearly dropped it on the ground. Finally, he had hopes of getting a quick spa treatment never wanting to go to the start of the race or competition looking all mangy and dirty, but had to skip not wanting to miss it and just did his own mane and tail by shaking his head and flank until his tail and mane just went to there original style.

Trotting up behind all the other ponies and creatures who were already at the starting line, Greenshot was already behind and was going to need to hussle with the number 27 on his flank. There was no way he was going to win this event with all the other athletic looking creatures, but he was going to try his darnest to get up in the pack as the race progresses. Greenshot flared his nostrils and stomped his hooves several times onto the ground, ready to get this race going, ready to see what he was up against.

During his train ride, Greenshot's strategy was to begin a paced race not run straight away and keep that way, but just pace himself and only muster whatever strength would be left near the end of the race. In his mind, his thoughts raced between nervousness for the wait that seemed to feel like forever, the honor it was to be able to run in a race like this and to not screw anything up, to pay attention to the path and the others that would be in front of him. "[colour=#006400]Good Luck EveryPony.[/colour]" Greenshot decided to shout out loud

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Motion Paradox walked up to the starting line, she had seen last year's running of the leaves and this year she had decided to give it a try; while not the most athletic Pony she was cautiously optimistic about her chances, after all last year's winner managed to beat Ponies in much better shape than herself. This was part of the reason why she decided to try entering this year if Lyra managed that maybe she put the muscle tone she had gained from her daily dance practices and win too.

Still she had taken a bit longer than she hand planned to get started and she'd have to hurry if she wanted to be ready in time, she wiggled her way into her spot behind the starting line and soon the starting whistle went off. Motion Paradox began her run through Ponyville with a brisk walking pace; not too slow to keep up with most of the other compeditors but still slow enough that she wouldn't use up all of her stamina in the first leg of the race, this was going to an interesting and hopefully fun experience.

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((OOC: sry for the short post. Totally forgot about this))

Late, how could he be late for something like this? He heard the start of the race and the galloping of hooves. The first runners came into view along with the many spectators on the sidelines. They weren't far ahead. It had been an awful series of events already. He overslept and was late to leaving the Ponyville hotel. Then, he had to turn around halfway to the tracks and go back for his registration. Oh, what an awful day. He hadn't even eaten anything for breakfast. Sure there had to be something along the way. He was bound to find out at some point.

As he passed, he saw a familiar face in the crowd. His friend Silvermist jumped up at the sight of him as he crossed over the starting line. He no longer saw the other runners as they had already rounded the first corner. Thankfully, he knew he wasn't too far behind the runners. First place however might be a long distance out of his reach. Only time will tell. The Running if the Leaves had begun.

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