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Stage Three: Galloping Glade! Faster than a Speeding Pegasi!

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Stage 3- The Galloping Glade

 

Clear weather reveals a beautiful, wide-open area that hasn't tasted the nasty storm that flooded the brook. This semi-permanent clearing is obstacle free and beautiful, with deer and other wildlife burrowing close by and yet far away from the trail. They will be witnesses to the racers finally having the space to strut their stuff. Will you choose to go ALL OUT?

OOC: You may choose to push yourself to the limit and earn bonus points in this stage. Doing so may or may not help or hinder you later. If you choose to go ALL OUT, note it somewhere before or after your main post.

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Strong Copper

 

The moment that Copper left the coverage of the storm, the difference was quite literally that of night and day. There was sun, the only water to be found was the droplets of rain and sweat that were being flicked off of his body as he galloped forwards. At first he had to take some degree of care to make sure he didn't slip on his own water and mud covered hooves, but each step resulted in more of both being left behind on the track as the sun dried his coat and he was finally able to start moving at a reasonable pace once more. 

 

He could have gone all out and just galloped like the wind itself. If there was ever a place to have done so, the conditions were ideal but... it was simply too soon in the race for him to justify such a thing. Such, he felt like he had a leading position (through with Tempest on his hooves that lead wasn't by much), but going all out seemed like it was a short term gain that wouldn't pan out in the long run (pun intended).

 

So instead he moved at a much more conservative pace, enjoying the warmth and the sun after the downpour of rain while briefly observing the local animals as he went past, through made sure his glances were only brief to avoid something silly like missing the path and running headfirst into a tree.

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 All Out!

 

It seems bat stallion got a little miffed with her words/treatment of him. Good. His giggles at her flirting were cute, but he was supposed to be Guard's Pony no? Have a little pride. Put others in their place when necessary. Good, this made the game so much more interesting.

"Ufufufu..." she let out excited giggle while glancing back. Yes, chase me!

 

Speaking of interesting, these two others took her challenge as well. Splendid, the more the merrier! They even managed to come close to her. After they introduced themselves, 'Jade' made a slight bow in return.

"A superb names. I am Dr. Jade Beaker. I am an ethologist.....and so it happens, I specialize in great cats." her gaze landed on a Tiger Blood for a longer while.

"And, it may be be obvious, but when working with such animals, it's important to have physical capabilities. Like managing to run faster...and longer then them!" unicorn mare explained....and accelerated.

 

They couldn't know that due to all the souls she absorbed before the race, Hou could keep this tempo for hours. Outward nothing could be detected, but the spirit energy within her steadily transformed into vitality, replenishing stamina while cleaning such unpleasant things like lactic acid from her muscles. Sprinting till the finish line was possible....but so deep in her foes territory, appearances were everything. For now sorceress will be content to level with the mare she didn't interact with yet - Tempest Shadow!

 

"Hello there." 'Jade' spoke as she appeared directly on Tempest's six. "You pretty good. Planning to keep it up till the end?"

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Berry Punch

If, in later days, Berry Punch had been asked where and when things had started to go wrong, it would be here and now.  All throughout the race she had planned to take it relatively easy, no risks, no gunning all out for the finish line.  Just a nice run in the woods to knock all the leaves down, preferably with good-looking company.  But when one of the good looking ponies had decided to open up on the flats, as the sun made a re-appearance from behind the clouds, well!  Berry was not a mare well skilled in the art of resisting temptation, and the clear glade surrounding her and the sight of the backside of the mare gaining distance ahead of her proved entirely too much.

 

"Well come on then, Tiger, you can't that stand, can you!?"  She laughed, putting an extra spring in her hindlegs as she shifted from a canter to a full on gallop.  It had been a while since she'd run at top speed, but in the crisp fall air, with the trees and deer surrounding, it was a pleasure in and of itself, whether or not she managed to catch up to Jade in the front.  Not that she wasn't going to try!

 

All Out!

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"Now this is more like it!" Pinkie squealed with delight as she bounced into the glade. "It's so sunny here, and warm, and nice!" She wrung out the last bit of damp from her poofy mane and it sprung back it it's puffy place.

 

"This would be a great place for Fluttershy's next birthday!"  Bounce, bounce, bounce, down the dirt path leading through the idyllic scene. There were birds, and squirrels, and deer oh my! "Oh my gosh!" Pinkie planted her hooves on the path and started frantically sorting through her mane and then her tail. "Where, where, where? Ah!" She pulled her hoof out of her tail with a certain gator attached at the end.

 

"Hey there Gummy! All the crazy of that stream back there made me totally forget you were along for the ride!" She held the gator out in front of her and grinned. "You're not made at me are you little guy?"

 

The gator was still for a moment and then blinked his purple eyes in succession. 

 

"Whew! Thank goodness you're not mad! I don't know what I'd do if my favorite little gator in the whole wide world was upset with me!"

 

Pinkie got up and bounced on. She glanced over her shoulder. "I wonder where Abby and Zappers got to?" The mare slowed her bounce, hoping the two younger ponies would catch up to her. Sure this was supposed to be a race, but that wasn't very fun without your friends by your side!

 

(not gonna go all out)

 

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Tongue Twister trotted along at her moderate pace as she watched the other racers that took the long path filter in.  

The aerion Midnight Oil.  Berry Punch.  A unicorn mare that gave her the creeps for some reason - like the dying echoes of a near forgotten nightmare.


The unicorn mare took off at full speed, and Berry Punch did as well.  

 

Spoiler

 

"This area is wide open !" noted the Abomination, "No obstructions of any kind as far as the eye can see !  Why not go all out as they have ?"


"Endurance is a finite resource." TT stated back, "I'm not sure how much I have, so I'm saving it for the last leg of the race."


"That seems quite a foolish plan."


"It may be a foolish plan, BUT IT IS MY PLAN.  And it may only seem foolish if the goal is to win.  I have an alternate victory condition - simply finishing the race.  This IS the first time I've run this course after all !  But if a chance to win legally arises, I'll take it.


Hmm - next year, I might look over the course and ask mom for some ideas.  She could probably calculate the optimal places to go all out, and when to hold steady.  To the nearest step.
And probably set the odds to make some serious money betting on the outcome."

 


She noted a pale yellow/orange unicorn stallion ahead.  


"Ah !  That's the unicorn at the bridge that helped those two youngsters.  Looks like he's trying the slow and steady routine too."


She noticed his Cutie Mark - a magnifying lens over an unusual animal print.


And quite a few scars.


"A few of those cryptozoological mysteries get a bit testy upon being discovered ?" she simply had to ask him.

 

Not going all-out.

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Tiger smiled a bit at Jade's introduction, though his eyebrow raised as she mentioned big cats and her gaze lingered on him. What, just because of his name? He wasn't entirely sure what that was supposed to mean, but he didn't have long to think about it before Jade boasted about physical capabilities and bounded off again. The earth pony shook his head slightly, chuckling at her seemingly boundless energy so far, but Berry's reaction actually surprised him.

 

Chasing Jade at this point, he could resist, especially with another pretty mare by his side. Chasing Jade and Berry though, with no mares nearby to tempt him into hanging back, that was a different story. He let out a bit of an excited laugh before speeding up as well, chasing down Berry first since he guessed she would be the easier of the two. On the way though, he took the chance to admire the flanks on display, and what flanks they were. 

 

He gave a quiet, appreciative whistle to Berry as he came up beside her, giving a wink as he matched her pace again. To be honest, this felt good, running like this through an open area. It reminded him of home, running around Hesperia hunting and training. "Mmm, this feels good. I should come out here more often just to run around, you know? Feel the wind whipping past." He smiled at her, speaking between breaths.

 

All out!

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Strong Copper

Turning his head towards the pegasus mare that had decided to speak with him, Strong Copper frowned briefly at the question. He had always been somewhat self-conscience about his scars, but he had made the decision to go without clothing to cover them for this race and thus he should have expected a few questions about them. Didn't mean he was looking forward to it through; He never did really.

 

"Some, but if you're talking about the big ones that was caused by a manticore." He answered back easily enough. "Poor thing was infected with a strain of rabies and by the time I even reached the town that was having issues with the nearby wildlife, it was far passed the point of no return. Picture a large winged lion with a scorpion tail consumed by pain fueled rage to the point of berserk mindlessness, a desire to try and relieve that pain by lashing out at everything around it and its ability to feel its own body heavily numbed and you'll be able to understand why it was a terrible time for everyone concerned."

 

Because it was a lovely day at the moment, Copper was taking his time rather then going all out and it was only polite to ask questions back, he asked "What about yourself? What do you get up to when you're not running through the woods?

 

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Pride could be a dangerous thing, and it was currently fueling the young bat pony. He just had to prove himself. He had to make up from his little...incident in the puddle, and it looked like the weather was going to break. By the time he had hit the meadow, he could just make out the outline of Berry, Tiger, and...her.... As Midnight's hooves hit dry dirt, he would go from a trot to a full gallop. With each impact of the ground, dust would fly up behind behind the young stallion. The faster he went, the more and more the dust trail would grow. He was a pony on a mission, and that mission was to catch up. As he looked up once more, it would seem that they where too far ahead to catch even at full speed.

 

With a heavy sigh, he slowed from full gallop to a quick trot. Maybe being away from that flirtatious mare was the best thing for him now. As the paths met, he now found himself coming up on a pegasus mare wearing a cape and an orange unicorn. "Looks like we finally got some decent weather for this leg of the race," he said with a friendly smile. "Here's hoping it continues. This is my first 'Running of the Leaves.' I take it you two are newbies as well?"

 

Not going all out.

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 ALL OUT

 

So it seems she did fall behind thanks to an act of kindness. It was undesirable but she had no way of knowing the outcome if she did not. What if they got hurt? Gods, what if the colt was killed? Can she live with that again? And the truth was no. She can’t. She did the best thing and if it cost her the race so be it. But she still has room to gain what was lost and the clean shot ahead was just what the doctor ordered. A wide-open valley with lots of room to get around the herd. Tempest was going to show all of them just what she can do. 

 

Deep breaths, relaxing of the body, bracing for what will come. She was no race horse but she knew how to run like one. A trot in to the canter, canter in to the gallop. Head lower, four-beat gait, nose flaired take in that air. She did not need to think of her movement, her gait, it comes to you and you must let the inertia carry you on words between the beat of the hooves. And that beat is all that mattered in the moment. Four thumps and a moment of airtime between them. She may not have wings but every pony can fly long as they gallop fast enough.

 

It did not take long to gain on her lost lead, most of them were not even trying to run this fast! It made passing them all the more easy. And to her shock Copper was not pushing for the lead, he was slowing down with the others. A shame. But it seems a few others were willing to show off what they can do! Even that cute punch mare, seems she can move some tail if needed… And of all things some other mare pulled in up behind her opened up with some small talk? In a gallop? How in the world did that mare speak running this fast? She can barely think clearly at this speed! “YES!” Was the only talking that mare was going to get. Tempest will not hamper regaining her lead by wasting air on some blasted small talk! Last thing she needed to be was distracted, at this speed she’d break her legs if she tripped!

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Strong Copper

 

As more and more ponies darted by, Copper couldn't help but ask himself if he was making a mistake. If being well rested to face some of the challenges ahead would be worth sacrificing the brief lead he had managed to claim in the long run. A strong urge to gallop surged through his legs, but with a great deal of self control and determination as an individual he was able to resist the call of the herd; Pony kind was a herd species after all. While this had its strengths, it also had a major weakness in that it was so easy to find yourself being swept up by the mob of a herd without feeling the need to think for yourself. 

 

Doing his best to squash primal instincts demanding that he bolt in order to keep up with the running herd for safety, he instead turned his focus on the bat pony; If there was one benefit to not running at full gallop like a predator of some kind was chasing you, it was that you could actually talk a bit because you had the spare air to do so. "I can't speak for the mare but this is my first year running. Shame about the bridge but... well, it looked rather old and due for repair or replacement soon anyway. How are you both enjoying it so far?"

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Not much of a talker, was she?  Not that Hou could blame her.  Tempest's Shadow may been a mare that tempered her body to withstand physical strains beyond that a normal unicorn could endure....but she only had one lifetime to do so. Such speed had to leave even extraordinary pony short of breath. The question is, could Storm King's ex-right-hoof-mare has enough stamina to finish the race while keeping that tempo? She shall see first-hoof if Tempest can walk her talk!

 

For now, 'Jade' glanced backwards. It seems that both Berry and Tiger took her challenge like champs. Hoofsome areion on other hoof, chose to lag behind. A shame....or perhaps an opportunity? After all, unicorn mare had good idea how to wear him out....this evening.

It also took all of her willpower to not gape at....Tongue Twister, was it? The cape she wore seemed inconspicuous...but Shuren knew that this mare didn't used it last time. Was the dark magic she gifted her with, affected that part of her body? Now 'Beaker' wanted to take a peek even more!

But no, she had to be patient. She rather drag her out of her hotel room in the middle of the night, when everyone will be asleep and oblivious. Then she can have 'heart-to-heart- with her test subject.

 

With that decided, 'Jade' once again re-focused on Shadow. Hou heard she had quite a temper. It was good oppurtunity to verify that rumor.

"I see." sorceress answered before flashing Tempest smirk. Part audacious, part belittling. For a start. "By all means, show me!"

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Berry Punch

 

Aw, the fluffy bat-stallion wasn't going to be keeping pace with the front runners!  Berry couldn't help but wonder if she ought to have called him out along with Tiger Blood, but in the end, every racer's decision was their own, regardless of the incentives provided by either the organizers or fellow-contestants.  *Let's not forget the view from behind is so fine he might not want to miss it!  Your fault for looking too good, girl.*

 

Self-flattering thoughts aside, she found it exhilarating to just run flat out, regardless of company.  Legs were built to work, and it had been a while since she had really pushed hers like this.  There was a bit of a burn there, but it was still the pleasant burden of strengthening muscles, not the sharp bite of an impending strain.  It did rather limit her ability to interact with her fellow racers; she was by no means in the kind of shape that could run flat out and talk at the same time.  Not that even fitter ponies indulged in such multi-tasking, if Tempest was any indication.  They hadn't been close enough to talk all race, and now that they were for this brief and isolated time, Berry was in no position to and Tempest had no desire.  Such a pity.

 

Even at her pace, she still was in the wake of Jade and Tempest, but Tiger was keeping pace with his fellow Earth Pony for now.  She could only smile and nod, hoping the stallion would understand her less-than-vocal state in this part of the race.

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The forest and the storm gave way to the closest thing to a straight and narrow path that the course would offer. It was said that every year the Running of the Leaves took on a different character but she always felt like it started the same. Why didn't they just build a stone bridge? The rickety one that was put up every year felt like a serious hazard. In any case they had made it over and through and except the stinging sensation in her head that sent shivers down her spine and the water that held fast her pelt, she was good. And so was Zap Apple. Together they were going to kick all sorts of flank, and the flank kicking started here in the open!

 

You bet your flank she was gonna be going all out! "Think you can keep up, Zappy?" She said with a wink before she started to take longer, faster strides. She kept her focus up front and on the path ahead, stealing glances on her nephew as she started to gallop like her life depended on it. She wasn't gonna be as fast as others but with her face so close to the ground- hey facts were facts- and one of them was that ponies had tripped, gotten lost or otherwise made a mess of the simple straightaway before. So as the wind started to whistle past her and her hooves started to look like true blurs, she tried t not lose herself in the sensation of speed that overran her.

 

That lasted about five seconds. "Yeee-hawwww! Here Ah come, everypony!" She yelled as she poured more and more of herself into it. Each gallop that slammed into the ground came with the excitement that was intrinsic in a great pony gallop. It was hard to get a good gallop going in town. Not enough room. Too many buildings, too many ponies. But out here a pony could just be a pony, wild and free, and she took full advantage of that fact as she pushed her body to move as swiftly and capably as it could go.

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  • Apple 2

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Zap had slowed his pace to the rhythm of everypony's attention towards helping those across the bridge, which was now in a thousand pieces downstream. It took him a minute to soak in the idea that it was the same slabs of wood he ran across. His mothers would be so mad at him for being here. Supposedly, Applejack was preparing for the ceremony after the race. What what the face of his mother look like if she saw him cross that finish line coming out of the tree line. Better yet, what would her reaction be if crossed that finish line first?

 

As the daydreams conflicted Zap, he followed all of the bigger ponies up the trail to a break in the woods, where wide open fields could be seen. Zap remembers this place, it was one of the family's favorite camping spots. The flatter paths encouraged the stronger ponies to gallop faster, and they began pulling away from him. Even his auntie, who had a bigger stride than him, was trying to close the gap in on the soldier ponies. As the path joined with the path from higher ground, he saw more ponies to compete with, including a bat pony, who would have looked a little scary had he not been full blush.

 

It became obvious that the older ponies had a bigger stride than him. All he could do is move his little legs as rapidly as he could. Fortunately for him, Zap seemed to never run out of energy. So instead of slowing down from feeling defeated, he decided to keep to his own pace and try and take in the wonderful nature surrounding the running of the leaves.

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"Some, but if you're talking about the big ones that was caused by a manticore." He answered back easily enough. "Poor thing was infected with a strain of rabies and by the time I even reached the town that was having issues with the nearby wildlife, it was far passed the point of no return. Picture a large winged lion with a scorpion tail consumed by pain fueled rage to the point of berserk mindlessness, a desire to try and relieve that pain by lashing out at everything around it and its ability to feel its own body heavily numbed and you'll be able to understand why it was a terrible time for everyone concerned."


Because it was a lovely day at the moment, Copper was taking his time rather then going all out and it was only polite to ask questions back, he asked "What about yourself? What do you get up to when you're not running through the woods?" 


"The fact you still live and are reasonably intact is rather impressive." TT replied, "Manticores can be extremely dangerous even when they're not rabid.  Being a very large carnivore means they have to eat quite a bit.


We used to work for the Manehattan Museum of Natural History as a linguist." TT stated, "Wandered about temples in Tenochtitlan, pyramids in Pharoah's Vale, and anywhere a sample of ancient languages or cultures could be found !"


She sighed heavily.  "But we were downsized at the museum, so for now we are unemployed.  So now we're trying to set up a consulting business; the ability to speak all languages  - even Bureaucrat and Legalese - should be of value to somepony.  


We don't know who, but we don't have to.  We just came to town to set up a post office box so clients can send requests and payment."

 

Quote

 

"Looks like we finally got some decent weather for this leg of the race," the aerion stallion Midnight Oil said with a friendly smile. "Here's hoping it continues. This is my first 'Running of the Leaves.' I take it you two are newbies as well?"


"I can't speak for the mare but this is my first year running. Shame about the bridge but... well, it looked rather old and due for repair or replacement soon anyway. How are you both enjoying it so far?" Strong Copper replied.

 


"A rather enjoyable run so far."  TT answered, "This is our first year running.  We've heard about the race, but since we're here, and have time to kill, we thought 'Why not ?'


And that was some good work at the bridge." she continued, "That could have turned out - very badly.  Are foals that young supposed to be running in this race ?"

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The warm sun beamed down on the Pink and her intrepid gator as they bounced their way down the path. There was a slight breeze and Pinkie found herself wanting to stop and whip a picnic out of nowhere. But no, she was in a race! She glanced around. There were ponies here and there though most not in view. Then she spied a cloud of dust coming closer and closer to her. 

 

"Woowee! Gang way everypony! Somepony's going all out through here!" The thunder of hooves sounded in her ears and she moved to the side of the trail so as not to be run over!

 

And who should be coming down the path? It was Abby! The filly was galloping about as fast as Pinkie had ever seen a filly gallop! She was certainly of Apple blood! The only family with speed to compare would have to be Rainbow Dash's! "Wow! Way to go Abby!" Pinkie couldn't help but exclaim as the filly came running by. She waved and Abby didn't slow, whipping Pinkie around in circles and leaving her in dust and falling leaves.

 

"Whew Gummy! These ponies are super serious about this!" The gator blinked.

 

"Here comes somepony else!" A smaller could of dust was coming up fast! It was Zappers! Pinkie stayed where she was and cheered the young colt on! "Go go go! Run Zappers, you're doing great!"

 

After a little time Pinkie continued her bounding pace, keeping her right on the heels of the other races without looking winded at all!

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Strong Copper

 

Strong Copper couldn't help but shake his head. "I feel like there should be an age limit, but I didn't exactly look too closely at the race rules when it came to how old one had to be to run." He answered honestly. He had listened to what the mare said about her former employment and while it was true that there was a degree of overlap between the two of them, he couldn't help but offer her a sympathetic "I'm sorry to hear that. They really don't show the same degree of respect to really old things these days like they did back when Celestia was Princess." It was a rather poor joke but... well, it was a rather poor situation.

 

Risking a glance over his shoulder at the bouncing pink mare that was following them, he felt the need to ask "So... what's your story then? First time running?"

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Tiger simply smiled back at Berry, recognizing that she wasn’t as comfortable with talking while exerting herself this much. That was fair, she didn’t do guard training like he did, it would be perfectly reasonable for him to be in better shape. Turning his gaze back forward, he concentrated on the running itself, enjoying the sensations around him. Sensations like the wind whipping past him, the earth thundering with all the hooves hitting it, and the view of the nature and mares around him. It was a bit of a shame that Midnight wasn’t joining them, but he seemed to have found a new conversation partner, so he understood not wanting to run off on them yet. 

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ALL OUT

 

Tempest was unlike most unicorns, so unlike them she may have been the only one to push themself like she did. Her magic was strong but unreliable and for most of her life completely useless. She filled in that gap using her body. Raw strength and endurance took the place of magic and in it she found an outlet. Every morning she runs. Every other day she worked out useing whatever tools she had at hoof. Buckets of water, fallen trees or rocks. Whatever worked. Whatever she had at hoof. She had a body that made even earth ponies blush and feel feeble. And what of her size? She was head and shoulders taller than most and could look the tallest pony in this town in the eyes. It made her wonder if maybe she was never supposed to be a unicorn. She sure wasn't built like one. Yet for all of this… That blasted mare tailing her was still yaping as if going in a full blast gallop was nothing. 

 

And that was infuriating. She wanted to slam in to her, knock her down and hammer a hoof in to that face. By all means the mare says. By all means she’d be happy to break that mare's jaw! See how much that mare grins and acts all snippy rolling in the dirt missing teeth. By all means she’d love to show that mare just what she can do. But that’d kick her out of the race… But that did not matter. No what did matter was how Glitter may feel. Fear? Scard? Disappointed? That alone was far worse than being kicked out of the race for beating some mare in to a heap. And for Glitters sake she had to control herself. She had a race to win and she’d do it fair. She can’t let this mare or others get underneath her skin. She was better than that. With new found focuses she pushed herself harder, faster. To gain every last inch of space she can in the race and show that mare what she’s made of!

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The Pink bounced on! This was some race and a few of the competitors seemed to be taking it with all seriousness. Pinkie could be serious, no really! She could! If she had to, if her life depended on it or the life of one of her friends. Yep, that was about the only thing that could get the party mare to rein in and really turn on the serious. What was the fun of it really? Pinkie was no dummy, she'd proved that time and again, but she didn't want to waste her life without a genuine smile whenever there was time for it. 

 

The breeze blew warmly and she enjoyed her trip across the glade. She was keeping the others in her sights and if she had chosen to go all out she'd be right among them but hey! Why not enjoy a little time in the beautiful countryside with her best gator?

 

"I hope you're enjoying this part of the race Gummy! Sure beats the uh, incident with the bridge?" She grimaced and smiled when all the gator did was blink. 

 

"You know you're my best gator right?" She beamed happily and made her way through the rest of the glade...there was lots more race to come!

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Strong Copper

 

And the bouncing pink mare was too busy talking to... Strong Copper actually had to narrow his gaze a little bit and bit his inner cheek to make sure what he was actually seeing was real and not a sign that he had started to lose his mind, but she had a small, baby alligator with her. He couldn't quite put his hoof on it, but the small reptile seemed... familiar somehow. Like something one encountered in a dream one time and only had a vague recollection of long after the fact. 

 

Turning his head back towards the path, he actually found himself lost in thought trying to sort through his thoughts to place where he recalled a baby alligator from. If the Pink Mare didn't seem inclined to speak with him, he could afford not to force the issue.

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Apple Bloom felt her blood pumping wild and free and allowed herself a few moments of extreme selfishness in the midst of an activity designed for such noble ends. She knew he wasn't as fast as her sister or as strong, and she wouldn't claim her stamina was anywhere close to matching Applejack either. But in that moment she felt like the fastest, strongest, and gosh darn cutest pony running this race and she dared anycreature to deny her that. Tempest? Midnight Oil? Tiger? Sure they may be super fit military types and such but she was an Apple, and Apples never spoiled when challenged. 

 

She checked around for her nephew, but noted quickly that he was nowhere near her. That momentary panic was swept aside in the fervor of athletic competition and the faith she had gained in her nephew's ability. Or more accurately, decided to treat him as she would like to have been treated. Not for her was the overbearing nature that had once overcome her sister's better self. She would allow him some space to stretch and do his Zap thing, whether that was galloping his little heart out or enjoying the scenery. He was worth any and all of her efforts and sometimes that meant no effort at all.

 

The road started to take some more twists and turns as it continued, losing its straight and narrow approach. In this, her smaller stride was a benefit as she could more quickly adapt to the winding paths. Those with larger strides may have problems with it but she handled it just fine. And she was even more fine when Pinkie Pie sidled up to her at her own gallop. "Way ta go Pinkie!" Apple Bloom said as the pink blur did the pink blur thing, making her presence known to each and every creature. The twists and the turns allowed her to some gain some ground, approaching the pack as much as she could. "Hold yer haunches everypony, Ah'm comin' through!"

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