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IP2012 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?


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 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 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.

Edited by Manestream
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  • 1 month later...


CRUNCH! Applejack bites an apple and smiles in its sweetness as she prepares for her attempt at the event. "A race with potato sacks strapped on? Why, that'll be easier than plowing a fruit fly's field! I carry bushels of apples from the farm to the market almost everyday, and it's certainly more than a couple hundred gallops." Applejack addressed openly to any of the surrounding ponies that could heard her. She wasn't trying to be boastful, but what was she to do with everypony knowing that she would be one of the biggest competitors in this year's Iron Pony Competition? And if it hadn't been for a blue pegasus friend losing sight of the value of honesty, perhaps the crowds of ponies would be cheering for Applejack to defend her title.

"Alright, I'm ready to go." Applejack tossed her half-eaten apple to a nearby trash receptacle and placed her hooves at the prep line. She crawled underneath the saddle sack and lifted it onto her back. As she raised, the muscles in her thighs and knees showed signs of immediate tension. Applejack huffed. "Let's do this. Yeehaw!" At the sound of a whistle, Applejack took her first step. She started out trying to run, but by her second step, she realized she was just going to have to pace it well. Even strong ponies need to understand that slow and steady wins the race.

Applejack huffed as she made her way down the path. Her hooves pranced at a very sturdy and rhythmic gait, just enough to outrun anypony taking a leisurely stroll, but slow enough to look like time was not of the essence. But it was! Applejack tried to increase her speed to a slow gallop. And she was able to with little effort. Unfortunately, three potatoes fell out of their sacks due to the extra bounce. Applejack immediately stopped as she knew that this was unacceptable. In understanding that she couldn't stand still for more than a few seconds, she quickly grabbed the potatoes with her mouth and tossed them back in the sacks from where they bounced. Applejack continued her jog as soon as she could. "Consarnit!" Applejack knew that she had to quicken the pace, but she didn't want to be disqualified either.

Applejack made it to the flag, and walked clear around it and began her trek back to the start line, without missing a step. However, her trots needed to quicken if she was to get an edge, or so she thought. She started a light gallop and tried to balance the sacks on her back. Her spine remained as stiff as a rail, and she compensated her steps just enough to keep her shoulders from jostling the bags. She was doing very well, galloping at a manageable speed without any trouble at all, but she was quickly getting tired. In her mind's eye, she just imagined the joys of celebrating a victory with her family, and it drove her to continue relentlessly.

"Almost there," Applejack gasped. Sweat from her head started drenching her orange coat where muscles shook ferociously, burning with strain. Only a few steps away from the finish line, Applejack exhaled violently in her final stride as she passed the time marker. Once over the line, she heard the whistle blow, and she dropped her sacks immediately. A disgruntled look of exhaustion was painted all over the country mare's face. She looked at everyone who was watching her. "We are never growing potatoes on our farm!" Applejack walked to the nearest trough and drank in some water as she waited to hear her results.


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Harrington Sleuth watched the first competitor, Applejack, take her turn at The Longest Yards and dreaded his time to run. Even if he hauled a caravan with him wherever he went, which was a bit hefty, he wasn't exactly sure about running on hoof with a giant pair of potato sacks weighing him down. And he heard he would haul 120 potatoes 200 yards plus however long he took around the little flag at the other end of the field. He often had the help of his wings when he hauled his wagon, but the rules forbade flying to level the field between Earth ponies, Pegasi and Unicorns, so as a provision to help him run a fair race, he had another pony help him tie a rope around his body so his wings were secured inside, much like Rainbow Dash did when she participated in the Running of the Leaves.

"Looks like it's my turn..." Harrington gulped and started into a cold sweat as he approached the starting line, tossing aside his cap. Applejack's words before the contest rang in his head as he recalled her exhaustion at the end of the race.

"A race with potato sacks strapped on? Why, that'll be easier than plowing a fruit fly's field! I carry bushels of apples from the farm to the market almost everyday, and it's certainly more than a couple hundred gallops."

Even if I haul a wagon with all of my belongings everywhere I go, she does some heavy-duty work, too. Her face made it obvious that anypony running this race will endure a pain like no other...it's going to take not only muscle, but will power...but I believe I have that down. I'm a private investigator. Will power is everything in work as it is my duty to see every problem to its solution, no matter how long or difficult. I can do this!

He slid himself into the saddle sack, much like Applejack did before, and when he stood up to place himself properly, the potatoes strained his legs as though they were made of lead. There was no turning back now, though, and he nodded to the race official and took his stance. He focused solely on the flag at the other side of the field, 100 yards from the line he stood behind.

The whistle's screech prompted Harrington to take off, sprinting as hard as he could. He thought if he could gain enough ground with a sprint, he would have a leg up on Applejack's time. 200 yards didn't sound like much to him when he entered, but he slowed down and tried to pace out his energy after a few seconds, when he was only 15 yards out. He realized the spuds essentially doubled his weight if they didn't triple it, and he had to come up with a way to keep moving at a decent pace while not making any critical mistake.

He tried a speed walk, moving vertically as little as possible since he recalled when Applejack dropped a few potatoes in her run. The forces required propel him forward and keep the weight of the sacks up torched every muscle required for him to move. He grunted and yelled as he dragged himself to the other end, and he walked around the flag at a slower pace to keep the spuds in place.

"Dear sweet Celestia, this burns worse than Tartarus...halfway down...halfway to go..." he huffed to himself to keep his mind focused.

A fire burned in his eyes as he spotted the start/finish line at the other end of the field, and he carried on dragging himself as the lead balls the potatoes were at the beginning started flaring his muscles as though he yanked the weight of Canterlot Castle behind him, and the 100 yards back looked more like 100 miles. He continued at a speed walk, then started accelerating when he locked into the mindset that even if he made it, his time might not be fast enough to hold up against the competitors still remaining.

His legs, back and body felt white-hot as he kept going. His wings started to try to push out, but the ropes he had tied over them prevented them from spreading. He slowed and stopped for three seconds to catch a second wind, anything, and sprinted as fast as his legs could allow him to budge as the end was in sight. 30 yards before the end, his mind didn't want to slow down, but his body made him as he walked with shaky legs, and he remained intent on reaching the line.

"Hrrrrgh....YAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!" Harrington hollered at the top of his lungs as each step felt as though someone pelted him with a hot coal that fused to his coat, and his body felt ready to burst into flames. Just 25 more yards. 20. 15. 10. 9. 8. He counted the distance between him and the finish, and he broke out into one final sprint in desperate hopes of putting up a solid time. If he couldn't beat Applejack, he at least wanted a top place among all competing ponies. "AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!" he kept yelling as he drew closer to the end.

The whistle blared in his ear to signal he had finished, and he collapsed a couple of yards past the line, well after time was called, barely crawling out from under the two-ton boulders he forced himself to drag. How anypony could do any sort of thing like that on a regular basis was beyond him. It was one mystery he was content to not solve. He scooted along the ground and picked himself up once he was at the trough to have a nice, long drink as he plopped his head squarely in the water.

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A stoic earth pony walked past the many, many possible challenges at this so-called 'Iron Pony Event' held in Ponyville. Carrying a cart filled to the brim with acorns behind him, he couldn't help but glare at the ponies passing. They were all so young. Too young. They wouldn't last long. They couldn't. Not against a pony with experience. Not against a pony that had fought with some of the strongest and fittest ponies, pegasi and unicorns Equestria had to offer, and he fought them. Looking at the ponies passing by him, he realized it was before their time, and nopony recognized him. He knew he still had it in him, he just knew. He had to show them. He had to. There's one thing that Acorn protected at the cost of everything else. And that was his pride

The harness fell onto the grass before the event he had walked into. Walking up to the bags, he huffed. ''Peace of cake.'' was all the elderly earth pony muttered before sliding the bags onto his back. They were heavy. But not too heavy. The frown from before had changed into the face of a pony that he once was. The proud fighter, the master in the ring, the one the ponies came to see when they wanted to see a good and honest brawl. Those days were over, yet the old flame within him sparked as he looked at all those young, weak ponies. The once famous stallion started trotted along the path, his mind set to reaching the finish line, and to prove to himself that he could still do it! The field might be a stretch, but by balancing his speed and his power enough, he could make it to the flag!

Loudly huffing and puffing as he trotted rapidly along the grass. His old bones were capable of handling the weight of the potatoes, even though it was starting to become a burden, whilst his speed sadly was much less than impressive. He had trouble making haste, all whilst his rusty bones carried the weight of the sacks. Even though he was aiming at reaching the finish, his body might not make it after all. He passed the flag after a short while, and turned around, only for one of the sacks to smash against his side, making the pony let out a huff of frustration. His bones were getting more and more fragile each day, darnit! He was halfway there, he had to make a final push.

The frustration now was clearly present on the stallions face, his frown coming back and his pants getting louder and louder. The stallion was now more walking along the grass than sprinting, even though he was nearing the finish. He didn't care about the speed part of the challenge anymore, and so he passed the finish line, walking. He looked to his left, he looked to his right and dropped the sacks on the ground. He had done what he wanted to do. Now?

The stallion put the harness back on, and started pulling the cart forwards again, going back to his family. He didn't care that he was tired, he just started walking. He had done what he wanted, and he was leaving. His pride was back the way it used to be.

And all he did was walk a little!

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Electric Vibe looked up at the starting line, the pressure of losing pounding in her ears. She had been training up her body for this for days, and she felt ready to run. Looking ahead of her, she could nearly see the flag which marked the 100 yard spot, and she narrowed her eyes in determination. Electric sighed, attempting to push all of the thoughts of failing out of her head. “I can do this! I just need to pace myself, keep myself on my feet, and try my best!” she whispered to herself. Electric then turned her attention to the heavy sack of potatoes strapped tightly and firmly to her back. Surely, this would be a difficult task to perform not only by itself, but with a heavy sack of potatoes to carry as well. A small drop of sweat rolled down her cheek in pressure, as she knew that some of the ponies who were taking part in the race were much more experienced than her, and were more likely to win. However, she had to give it her all! If she tried her best, she knew she would at least be liked for her hard work.

After watching some of the other contestants take their turns at the contest, Electric couldn’t help but wince at the heat of the competition. All of these ponies seemed to do very well, and even if some didn’t, she feared for how she would be able to do it. Taking a deep breath, the pegasus lined up at the dreaded starting line. She looked ahead, and dared not to look back. “It’s my time to shine,” she spoke steadily, calming her nerves down as she looked ahead. She slowly stretched out her back, the sack of potatoes rolling slightly down her back and she heaved up her rump. Getting into a ready stance, she counted every moment, which seemed like hours to her as she awaited the blow of the whistle. Her wings strapped to her body along with the sack, she closed her eyes, and blocked out all sound from her ears. Listening only for the sound that would begin her quest to become to best.


The whistle sounded loudly, and she took off, her hooves moving steadily, pounding against the ground as she trotted off towards the flag. When she had been training up for the event, she knew that pacing was one thing almost everypony knew to do, that way, they wouldn’t use up all their energy. Not yet, at least. Once she would turn back after going around the flag, she would pick up her pace and sprint to the finish. Grinning slightly, she knew that everything would go according to plan if she panned this out right, and she continued to steadily make her way toward the flag, which seemed to be nearing her closer and closer with every step she took.

Electric breathed at a steady pace as she began to near the flag. The sack of potatoes seemed to be making at least a slight dent in everypony’s attempt at running the 200 yards, and it was working especially for her. The heat of the hot and bright day caused a downpour of sweat roll down her cheeks, as if the sweatdrops themselves were trying to outrace each other to fall down her cheeks. Electric felt quite jealous of them, as they didn’t have to carry the intense burden of a sack of 120 potatoes on their backs. As she neared the flag, she hissed in pain as her hoof knocked against a stray rock in the field, and huffed as she continued on, the ringing pain beginning to subside as she took her mind off of it.

Soon enough, Electric was at the flag of 100 yards, and using a tactic she came up with herself, she stomped her left hoof onto the ground behind the flag, and she twirled her body around, skidding, as she was now faced toward the way she started. The impact of her hoof slamming into the ground, and the friction of the skid, caused a large dust cloud to form, and she quickly made her way back, trying to avoid the dust cloud from entering her eyes.

Now that she was on her way towards the finish, she would need to definitely pick up the pace, but the only problem that hindered her plan was the force of the potatoes. They had certainly taken a toll on her speed, and she soon started to feel the pain burn in her legs. The strain of the potato sack was starting to get on her nerves, but luckily, Electric didn’t carry a lot of weight. She didn’t have too much muscle either, so they lightened her up a bit from the other ponies who took this challenge. She soon gritted her teeth in determination, and urged herself to run faster.

She could almost see the finish line, and despite the heavy weight that weighed her down, she let out a battle cry, and began to work her hooves at a fast beat. She imagined one of her electrical songs playing in her head, which started to pump her up. She moved her hooves at the fast and upbeat rhythm of the song, and hissed in fatigue as she rushed, sprinting quickly to the finish.

The pain of fatigue rang in her head, threatening her to slow down. To stop, to collapse, to give up. No! I won't give up! I've finally gotten my chance to do my best at this competition! I won't let up! Not till the finish line is behind me, I'll keep going! Sweat coated her coat, dripping from her body. The potato sack slid back and forth on her back, still strapped tightly to her body. She kept her teeth clenched tightly, running headfirst to the finish. The sweat became cold as the wind pounded against her, giving her a slight boost. She had to try to win this! Even as the pain of the sack and her legs began to ache, her mind pushed her on. Keep running and don't stop yet!

She even surprised herself as her legs moved like a train, not missing a single step as sprinted as fast as she could to the finish. She was about 20 yards away, and she kept encouraging herself in her head. You can do it, Electric! You can do it! Only a little more to go! With one last heave, she pushed herself across the ground with the force of her hooves and rushed across the finish, coming to an immediate halt, causing her skid once she had crossed the line, the sack pulling her backwards a bit. "Ahh,,,,,! I-I...I made it across!" she sighed in relief, sitting soundly onto the grass. Well, at least she tried to sit soundly, the but weight of the sack caused her smack onto the ground with great force She breathed heavily, but with pride. However, she tensed up as she looked back at the fatigue-filled field with her eyes narrowed. All I need to do is see how I did... I really hope I didn't screw this up...

She soon wriggled off her sack, and spread her wings wide, which were drenched in perspiration. She needed to stretch and air them out after all that, and consider the largely shaped style of her wings, she needed to air them out as much as she could, and lugged herself away to get a huge drink of water. It was a tough run, but she did her best, and that was what mattered the most, right? Catching her breath, she smiled as she left the scene, watching as more ponies lined up to take the challenge. They'll need as much luck as they can get.

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Snapshot watched as the event began to set up. "Carrying a backpack around? Ha. I do that every day, for my supplies!" he said, to no pony in particular. There were already a few others getting the same idea; one had already crossed the finish line, while the other looked as though he might break something out of age. Grabbing a sack filled with potatoes, he waited in the small line before stepping up to take his place. The potatoes were a bit heavier than his supplies, but surely it wouldn't be too hard to make it round trip, right?

The whistle blew, and Snapshot began his trek across the field at a fast trot, not wanting to over exert himself too early. Not getting first place didn't bother him, but he at least wanted to finish the challenge. As he made his way towards the end flag, though, he instinctively began picking up the pace. Trying to slow his hooves down was proving to be a challenge, and he could tell that if he were to continue at this pace, he would lose too much steam before making it back to the start.

This thought came a little too late, and he could feel the weight on his legs now, his hooves hurting from the strain. It felt like everyone in Equestria was looking at him now, expecting him to finish. And finish I shall! he told himself. Looking down the field, he focused his vision, blocking out everything around him. The ponies, the trees, the birds flying overhead, the sky itself. All that was left now, in his world, was him, the ground in front of him, and the finish line. He knew that he could do this, all it would take was just a small push. Measurement had no meaning to him anymore, and he lost track of how many steps he'd been walking. Me, and the line. Nothing else, he thought. Just me, and the line...

And suddenly, he was across. setting the bag down beside him, he lay on his back, waiting for a short dizzy spell to stop clearing his mind. Watching the world spin around him, the sun shining over his head, he took in the simple beauty of the area around him, and the wonderful feeling of not having that darned sack over his shoulder. Feeling the air return to his lungs, he saw another pony cross the finish line, and smiled, realizing what he had just overcome.

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Ardent Fate was beaming with pride and conviction. She had heard about Iron Pony in her travels, and while at first she had been a little unsure, she was now convinced it was an opportunity well work seizing. This would be an important step for her. Before all these watching ponies she would prove her mettle and emerge victorious. Today would mark the first page in the legend of Ardent Fate, the greatest knight Equestria had ever seen! There was not a single doubt in her mind.

This wasn't anything new, however. Doubt wasn't commonly in the mind of the young earth filly with the indigo mane, even when it should be. Simply put, Fate wasn't very much like most fillies her age. She had no parents to guide her, only memories. The memory of her father told her she wanted to be a Destrier knight of such caliber as to match him, and so she toiled endlessly to reach this goal. While in her mind it seemed she was getting closer by the day, from the perspective of any onlooker, her big ambition could best be described as a fanciful pipe dream. Yet even if it was impossible, Fate would remain ever ignorant to the fact. Impossible was not a word the young pony understood very well.

Fate spent her days wandering Equestria, looking for chances to prove herself. Usually she was promptly ignored for it or met with concern over the very large and very sharp sword ever strapped to her back. Parting with this sword for the Iron Pony events had been the hardest thing for the young pony. It had belonged to her father and was her most treasured possession. It was also, however, the reason she had decided on this particular event to compete in. "The Longest Yard" had its competitors sprint with a heavy weight strapped to her back; because of her sword, which was longer than she was tall, she was used to moving with a crushingly heavy weight on her back. For her, coming out on top in this event was going to be a piece of cake, even if she was probably one of the smallest competitors entered in this event

Fate watched closely as the other ponies went before her. They were all pretty good, competing the event with different levels of ease. The filly gulped slightly as the last one finished and it was finally her turn. She wasn't really worried--you'd struggle to find a more precociously self-assured young pony, but there was just a hint of nervousness in her walk as she stepped toward the massive pile of potato stacks. An official shot her a very odd look as he grabbed a sack and moved it toward her back, whispering "You sure about this, kid?" into her ear as he placed it on top of her. It was heavy. Heavier than her sword. She almost collapsed right there, but her small legs found the strength to push back against the burden. She nodded to the official and he nodded back as she strapped the sac in place.

"Today is the start of my legend! Ardent Fate, Equestria's next great champion, shall today find knightly glory by claiming Iron Pony gold!" Fate declared as she stumbled toward the starting line. Even the name sounded right. Iron Pony brought to mind a valiant pony knight, covered head to hoof in shimmering armor. She could just see it. She nodded boldly as a countdown began. This was her event to win! As the whistle blew, the potatoes were as if weightless! They were immaterial next to the youth's boundless ambition.

The filly broke immediately into a fierce gallop, sure to leave even the most cynical pony in the crowd with a gaping jaw. This, however, did not last long. After the first forty yards, the weight caught up to the filly and she could feel her knees buckle. She came to a complete halt. The weight was staggering. It made Fate question what she was doing. The weight of her burden was probably comparable to her own weight after all. Still, she couldn't stop! She had to press ahead. This was her legend after all, and more than five seconds stalled meant disqualification. It took all of her strength to force herself back into gear. She stepped ahead, found the strength to reach a gentle trot and after a while, this built to a strong canter. Yards passed the young filly and soon she was nearing the flag.

Fate's momentum was hard to control now. She passed the 100 yard mark by at least four yards before managing to change her direction and double back, to pass the flag by again. Turning took a lot out of Fate, and by the time she had fully redirected her course, the weight of the pack had caught up to her yet again. This time it was even worse though. She stumbled. She came ever so close to collapsing right then and there. Her back and front legs went in different directions and the weight of the potatoes nearly pushed her stomach into the ground below. She almost gave in, the burden by this point was not just physical, but mental at this point. Fate rarely doubted herself, but at that moment... she just couldn't convinced herself she could finish this race. It was just too much for some tiny, underfed blank flank filly to accomplish.

At the last possible second, she caught herself on her hooves before she met the dirt. She forced her little body back upwards. She could do this! Compared to everything she had endured thus far, this was nothing! She had survived so much, and all on her own. This race, it was just another obstacle, and by Celestia, she was going to see it done! Painfully, she stepped ahead. One step after the next. Progress was slow, but steady. Yards began to pass her gradually by. Eventually, a sense of momentum returned, and she found an agile trot. She never managed to meet her earlier speed, but at the same time she was able to continue ahead. Soon there were more yards behind her than in front of her, and then, eventually, the finish line was in her sights.

The last few steps were some of the hardest. Her momentum had slowed. Each hoof forward now was a heated struggle. Her pace was all too gradual, but it was at least there. Her knees buckled just as she neared the line. Fate grimaced. She couldn't allow herself to fall when she was so close. The filly nodded to herself and then used the very last ounce of strength she had to leap ahead, over the finish line. The second she was over, she collapsed into the ground. The potatoes followed her body weight down, but she didn't even care about their weight on top of her. Just being off her hooves was such a relief. She could barely feel them, see ahead of her or hear the roar of the crowd. All her strength was gone. Very soon she had blacked out.

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This was it. Twilight already lost at the Tug-of-War, but she was determined to win this one. She had washed off from her embarrassing failure at the Tug-of-War event, and she had cuts and scrapes from it. However, she could feel she would win this one. This was the last competition a unicorn could compete in for the moment anyway. She knew that she had to win this one, no matter how much strain it took. She noticed another filly, an Earth Pony, sitting breathless, blacked out at the finish line, and started to feel sympathetic for said filly. An official shot a glance of disbelief at Twilight, but strapped the bags on her anyway. "Another filly? What is it with the kids today?" She heard the official mutter, and she felt the need to respond. "I've already lost in one event, but I want to at least try to win another!" She said proudly. The official shot the same glance at her. "Whatever you say, kid." He said as he walked away to signal the beginning of the event.

She felt her hooves already starting to give way under the sheer weight of the sacks, but she put her hooves up, and transferred almost every bit of power into her legs, saving a bit for her back to carry the sacks.

As soon as the whistle blew, Twilight broke out into a run, determined to win. She felt the potatoes beating against her abdomen, and started to slow down, sweat dripping from her forehead. The strain was already too great, and she wasn't even at the 50-meter mark yet! She trudged along painfully, and eventually, the flag signifying the 100-meter checkpoint was in sight. She was determined to make it at least that far, and she started to pick up pace, picking up to a normal walking speed.

After she made it to the 100 meter point, she rested for a couple seconds, but not enough to get her disqualified. She started to make her way along, slowing to about a snail's pace as she got further. 'So close.... Can't... give up now....' She thought to herself as she walked along. Her hooves again began to buckle against the pressure, and she almost fell under the weight. She began to buckle several times, but she was so close to the finish! She got rid of the power she was saving in her torso and used it all in her legs, making a final sprint for the finish line. She was getting closer... closer... and eventually... she made it across the finish line. "Made... it...." She panted tiredly. She dropped all the weight on her back, and she felt weightless for the first time in her life. She couldn't feel her hooves, and her hearing and sight was fading. "Never.... doing... that.... again...." As much as she wanted to wave to everypony, she collapsed and fell unconscious, just like the filly before her had.

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Prime watched as the competitor before him finished, she looked exhausted. This contest wasn’t any joke that was a serious amount of weight; he had carried heavier in a pack before but he could pace himself on the road, he had to go as fast as he could and his best option was to use every reserve of strength and stamina he had. He made his way up to the starting area as he lipped the pack on he could already feel the immense weight giving him trouble.

“Just let me know when you’re ready and we’ll start,” the pony managing the stop watch said. Prime closed his eyes and tried to conjure up a thought… he was walking down a dirt road far from any town, it was unnaturally dark and he could hear something following him as he stopped and tried to find the source of the sound behind him he could see nothing in the darkness. As he turned around he came face-to-face with a set of large glowing red eyes and razor sharp teeth belonging to a wicked grin, as he ran faster and faster the creature never slowed or fell behind always on his tail.

With this image in his head he began to break into a sweet and his heart started beating at an accelerated pace he open his eyes and nodded to the pony. At the blow of the whistle he raced from the start at a good speed running down the track as the crowd started to cheer. The first leg of the race wasn’t what he was worried about, he knew that he had used most of his quick burst of stamina and was running on pure reserves. Making his way around the flag he felt a slight twinge of pain; it wouldn’t have been noticed if it wasn’t for the loud pop, as he place his hoof down he could feel it. The muscles in his left hind leg had already given under the weight and began to give him a burning sensation along with excruciating pain when he put any weight on it.

Ignoring it as best he could he forced his body to go even faster to compensate; running down the track every step becoming exceedingly more draining on him, time seemed to slow to a halt around him all he could think of was getting this over with put the more he pushed the more it seemed to slow. Driving his body forward he could feel his body inching forward, at this rate he would go insane waiting for this to be done, every step seemed to take five times as long.

Forcing himself on against his body begging for him to stop, but he would not yet give it the satisfaction of rest until he had achieved his goal. Racing forward time finally giving in he could finally feel his movements going at their intend pace he pushed even harder driving forward with everything he had left.

Sprinting past the finish he collapsed to ground just beyond the end not even bothering to take the pack of his fur matted down from his profuse sweating. Every part of body hurt, but he didn’t care he had made it and that’s all he wanted for now.

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Sky Flare felt rested enough from his Cloud Diving competition to give another event a try. The description seemed easy enough: run as fast as he could with a sack of potatioes strapped to him. Although he was not the strongest pony, he hoped that his running speed would carry him forward. The biggest downfall was that he couldn't fly, taking away his strongest physical asset. But rules were rules, and Sky definitely was not a cheater.

He stood at the line as the ponies assisting the competitors placed the potato sack on his back. They then took some rope and placed it both around him and the bag, securing it tightly. This also pinned his wings to his side, mabye a little too much as he began to feel the rope digging in.

"Hey! Easy on the rope. I know you want to make sure I can't use my wings now, but I'm going to need those to get home."

With the rope loosened a little, Sky then waited for the whistle. The pack wasn't bad on his back while standing still, but the real test would be how it felt running.

3... 2 ...1 .... Tweet!

As the sound of the whistle, Sky took off like a rocket, his mind fixated on that flag in the distance. With each gallop, the bag began to feel heavier and heavier like a pony was adding more potatoes as he went. He tried to keep his pace at an even gallop, hoping that with a steady movement he could get to the flag easily.

As he got to the flag and rounded it, something unexpected happened. The ropes must have been too lose around him and the pack, and when rounded the flag the potato sack shifted onto his right side, putting most of the pressure there.

"Yaaah," Sky cried out in pain as with each bounce of the sack caused by his galloping had started to hurt his wing. His galloping soon slowed to a trot as he approached the halfway mark. He felt like he was going to collapse from the pain and from the dizzy feeling in his brain.

"Little... further.... keep going."

With a last boost of energy reserve found somewhere deep within, he accelerated back to a slow gallop. Crossing the finish line, the weight of the potato sack became too much and it fell to the ground, taking with it the pegasus tethered to it. Sky lay on his side, panting and wincing in pain as the other ponies untied the rope, freeing him from the weight. Slowly he got to his feet, but from any pony in the stands it was clear he was in a lot of pain. It also showed too as there was now a considerable bruise on his left side made when the pack shifted and pulled the rope taut.

"I... think... I'll stick ... to flying."

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The Skybright Twins decided that only one of the pegasi would try this event, and that would be Sky, or "Hoss".

Shanna would be doing the dive event at the lake instead since she was the lighter of the pair.

Both were suitably impressed and amazed at the elderly and very sturdy pony and Shanna had gasped when two young fillies each had tottered around under the load.

Finally Hoss took his turn to prepare for the race, and grunted when his wings were tied down like Rainbow Dash's had been last year.

Before he could ask why it had to be so tight, he saw the pack slip on one contestant who had also complained and asked for a lighter knot.

With a sigh, he bore the tight ropes and slid under a pack of potatos, letting them be tied on as well.

Finally, he wobbled to the starting line and the starting whistle blew.

The bay stallion set off at a steady pace, having seen what happened to the ones who tried to sprint the first half of the race.

He hoped his long distance flying would give him a leg up on this race since endurance seemed to count more than actual speed, since by the end everyone was nearly crawling.

Hoss groaned as his leg muscles were burning by the time he trotted around the flag.

"Come on... *pant* little fillies were doing this... *Pant* Dont' let little fillies out-do you..."

He gritted his teeth as he pounded his hooves to the ground, slower and slower. Each step was growing agony.

The finish line was getting nearer, his eyes burned with sweat running into them while his legs burned from the strain.

he had not even realized he had crossed the line untill the whistle blew.

After he stumbled to a stop, Hoss looked behind him to see he had gone several body lengths past the line.

With a grateful sigh, the stallion slowly let his shaking legs slide apart in a controlled fall to his belly to rest while ponies came up to untie the pack and his wings.

Even after he was untied, he lay there for a while until he felt up to standing again. "Who knew potatos could be so heavy..."

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Sneaking past the Iron Pony entry booth without paying (using a little horn magic as a distraction), Flam began to take the 'grand tour' of the games. Spotting the "Longest Yards" event, the cream colored unicorn stallion trotted over to the contest area and watched as sacks of potatoes were being strapped to those already in the competition. Characteristically, Flam breaks out into song as he trots over to join the others.

"Egad! What have we here? It's a race with ponies near! They all call this an Iron Pony game!

Seems quite simple, seems quite clear, one lap around the flag in heavy gear! When I win, I will get INSTANT FAME!!!"

Speedreading the rules. the red and white striped mane unicorn sighed when he spotted the rule that read "No Magic."

"Gadzooks! There's go my strategy," he grumpled as he levitated his sack of potatoes up towards his back before using his magic to tie it securely down. "Winning something fair and square goes against my grain, but from the use of my magic I must refrain!"

Soon it became Flam's turn to race, the unicorn stallion's ears did catch some loud booing and hissing when his name was announced to the crowd. With a grim look of determination on his face, Flam gritted his teeth as the race starter began the countdown. 3....2......1..... GO!

Flam galloped hard as he ran towards the flag 100 yards away. What once looked like a short distance soon became a labor for the unicorn stallion as the constant weight of the potato sack strapped to his back slowly began to take its toll.

"This looked... (pant) .... much easier.... (pant) .... a few moments ago..." Flam managed to mutter as his swift pace started to slow down. Sweat beads began to roll from the bow tie wearing unicorn's body as he labored to make the wide turn around the flag. As the weight continued to press his back, Flam fought the temptation to cheat with his magic. For once in his life, he was going to do something right, without using shortcuts or tricks. Laboring to breathe, Flam's pace was now the speed of 'power walking.'

"Need.. (pant) ... to pick up... (pant) .... the pace...." he grunted, his mouth full of drool causing him to carelessly turn his head and spit... right into a small swarm of nearby traveling bees. Flam instantly heard the unmistakable sound of furious buzzing bees flying towards him. Crying out like a 'schoolfilly', the salespony bolted away from the pursuing swarm, not stopping at the finish line after crossing it! Leaping over a fence, Flam galloped hard before diving into a stream. Unfortunately for the cream colored unicorn, the stream was low, leaving his flank high out of the water. The angry bees found Flam exposed rear 'target area' more than inviting.

"YYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWW!" Flam screamed, jumping out of the stream to use his swinging front hooves to try to fight off the remaining bees that had NOT just stung his posterior. Thinking quickly, he used his levitation magic to remove the potato sack from his back, empty it and then cover himself with it as a primitive shield. Moments later, having finally eluded the bees, Flam took the sack off and began to levitiate First Aid items to tend to the numerous bee welts that now covered his flank area.

"Although I was stung and stung, it'd all be worth it if I won!"

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hi hi


Back and fourth, down and back; one competitor after another made the trip to the far end of the field and then returned to the beginning. Ginger Mint stayed out of the way, waiting over by little wooden fence for her turn at the starting line. She had finished her stretches, but with little else to do, she started again. It had been her plan to avoid watching the other ponies race, but she couldn't help herself. Curiosity, it seems, was stronger than the sense of intimidation she felt in the process.

How do I let myself get talked into doing these things?

The thought seemed reasonable enough, after all, she rarely enjoyed competitions, but she already knew the answer before it popped into her mind. She was a pony with something to prove, perhaps to herself, but more importantly to a mare she admired and looked up to. It was a powerful motivation.

"Number 12, you're next!" For the race organizer though, and undoubtedly most of the ponies present, this was just another day.

If athletic ponies like that are having trouble, how am I going to... No. I can do this!

Ginger Mint made her way to the starting line, trying to force the cries of frustration and agony she had heard earlier from her mind. She couldn't let nerves get the better of her now, backing out would be just as bad as losing. Worse than losing. She nodded at the thought and to the race official who was getting the potatoes ready for her. When they were ready, she said a quiet "Thank you," and moved into place. It took a little bit of crouching to get herself situated underneath the potato sacks. One step at a time, she knew that was all the race would take.

Standing back upright gave her a good sense of perspective. They weren't nearly so heavy that she couldn't lift them, but she knew they wouldn't feel so light for long. They had a certain gravity to them beyond just what she felt digging into her back, tugging down on her heart as well. Each one was a teapot about ready to boil, she just didn't know when that would happen or if she'd be ready for them when they did.

She stepped up to the starting line and exhaled a deep breath.


The sounds of other ponies competing in nearby events and the cheers of the crowd faded away.


The spectators along the field drifted away into another time and space, leaving only a long strip of grass to cross.


This is it, don't hold anything back. All or nothing!


Lifting up with her forelegs and pushing with her hind, Ginger Mint bolted into motion, getting up to speed in just a few rapidly hastening heartbeats. Her legs remembered the motions, even if the weight on her back said otherwise, making everything just a little bit different. She could feel her hooves press deeply into the dirt, even as firm as it was. She noticed the subtle way the motion of her head didn't properly adjust her balance like she was used to. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she could hear a teapot starting to simmer.

The sting of sweat in her eyes though, that was the same, even if it was a little bit ahead of schedule. Twenty five yards down, and her heart was already pounding away. She just gritted her teeth and forced herself to take deeper breaths. Even if her throat or the edge of her nose started to burn, she wouldn't let herself breathe shallow.

At forty yards, they did just that.

She tried not to think of the pain though, tried to imagine herself at the finish line. In her mind, she was standing on a podium while a blue ribbon was pinned to her hair. She could see the looks on their faces, feel the excitement in the air, but she could only guess at what it would feel like.

This is going to be it. This time I'm going to win, not third or second but first. First place. Just a little bit more.

By the time she crossed the seventy yard line, reality was little more than fire and thunder; legs, hooves and heart. Her body was already telling her she was finished, but she wasn't about to listen. Even though her vision was getting blurry, she kept the flag in sight, now just a hay-toss away. Just a little bit closer and she could have probably thrown the potatoes over the marker.

Wouldn't that be a sight, too bad I'd be disqualified.

With ninety yards down, she only had a few more to go. She thought she was pushing herself to the limit, but when her front left hoof almost missed its mark, a rush of adrenaline coursed its way through her veins. It was a needed boost of energy that let her correct her balance in time to avoid a tumble, but the prickling feeling that followed reminded her she still had something left to give.

When Ginger Mint reached the flag, she slowed to a tölt, just like she'd been taught. The extra control helped her round the corner and get herself pointed in the right direction again without falling over, and soon enough the finish line was in her sight. Trying to push off back into a gallop though, proved disastrous. Her hind legs refused to lift her into the air, and she ended up nearly performing a face-plant instead.

At this rate, I'll be lucky to place at all. Just got to take a moment to get a second wind and try again.

Ambling had always frustrated her and she wasn't about to go all the way across the field like that. All she needed to do was catch her breath a little, but with each draw, she felt like she was only paying off a debt. Looking inward, she searched for some reserve of strength, something she could call upon to see her to the finish line.

For a moment, she closed her eyes and saw the trophy case back home, blue ribbons, gold medals, even an elegant cup. Looking up at the display that had always seemed larger than life. So much more than the little box under her bed, filled with little trinkets, mementos, and a single red ribbon. The best race she'd ever done.

Not anymore! This time I'm going to win.

With eighty yards left to go, she tried to spur herself back into a gallop once again, but the result was the same as before. However, now even ambling along was starting to become tenuous. She didn't want to admit it, but she had lost the race fifty yards ago, but no amount of denial was going to help much longer. A few more paces and she was to the point where she was hauling her stiff legs forward by the shoulders.

Ginger Mint still had seventy six yards to go when she ground to a halt. The sound of the crowds filled her ears, the cheers, the ponies in the stands shouting for her to keep going. She watched as a pink mare, somepony she didn't even know, was pointing towards the finish line in a sweeping motion and hollering as loud as she could.

Her heart was still racing, urging her onwards, but for her that was the end. She turned her head around, grasping for the knot at the small of her back. Coarse rope against sandpaper, she pulled the sacks free, took one last step and dropped to the ground.

With her ear up against the ground, the thunder of approaching hooves filled her world. Next time. I'll win for sure next time.

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Cashew Nut stepped forward. This was his first trip to Ponyville and it was sure to be a memorable one.

He looked to the sack of potatoes he would be carrying. He was a farm pony, not unlike the orange cowgirl pony that had gone first. She had been very confident that her strength would be enough, though she did struggle in places. And Cashew was still a colt, not a stallion. He gulped with apprehension.

His neck muscles weren't strong enough to lift the sack himself, so an assistant helped him with tying it on. The weight of the sack nearly pinned him to the ground. He'd never experienced anything like this on the nut farm. Nuts could be heavy, certainly; in fact he was reminded of steel nuts, a type of rare magical nut that was the size of a walnut, but with the weight of a bowling ball. He'd never grown them himself (after all, who wanted to eat a nut that would literally pin them to their seat?) but the idea of lifting a sack of them put a grim smile on his face.

"I sure hope I'm up to this." he said to himself quietly. "I don't want to look like a fool in front of so many ponies." He quickly reminded himself that this was all just for fun. Many ponies were participating just for the sake of it, and he could already see that not everyone had made it to the end.

The whistle blew and Cashew moved forwards. His pace was slow. There was no way a colt of his size would set any records, so he had resolved to go at his own speed. One step. Then another. And another. His back was already sore and he was only half way to the flag. He took a quick breather to readjust his pack, making sure to move again quickly afterwards to avoid disqualification.

After what seemed like an age had passed, he made it to the flag. He made another brief stop, just for three seconds, just to breath. He slowly made his way around the flag, and set back off towards the finishing point. It was still slow going, but he'd managed to fall into a steady gait now, the pain from the heavy pack having reached its peak. By the time he hit the three quarter mark, the crowd were cheering and shouting for him. He gave them all a big smile as he trudged along. The encouragement helped boost his determination. He picked up the pace a little to try and get the lap over and done with. He needed to dump this bag as soon as possible, have a lie down, maybe find a place to get some juice or milk.

He was nearly there now. "I... can... do... this!" he said, though with the creaming of the crowd he could barely hear his own voice. "Just... a little... more!"

As his last hoof passed the finishing line the whistle blew and Cashew fell to the ground immediately with a loud grunt. The helper ponies from before arrived to undo the ropes and remove the heavy sack from the exhausted pony, as applause rang out from the onlookers.

"Never doing that again." he said, not getting off the ground. "But I'm glad I did it once."

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Rainbow Dash watched the other competitors make their runs, noting the errors ... potatoes falling out was one danger, she'd have to glide smooth and careful ... but even worse was how they were all drained dry by the end of the race. Ha! Probably not a one of them had ever had to pull a cold front in from the frozen north, or even thought that air might be heavy! Heh. Sure, lots of them had hauled a load at a nice sedate pace, but she bet they never had to haul a full load while racing ahead of the freezing winds or else having your wings ice up and bring you down!

Yes, this was much less like a race, and a lot more like hauling in the weather. Needs speed, strength, stability, *and* endurance. Starting up a storm front wasn't like starting a race - you had to build it up slowly, then let the weight carry itself. Yes, momentum was the key.

She grunted a little as the weight was laid across her back, staggering one step and then straightening up again. Whoah! Yeah, not as heavy as a cold front, but solid weight like this had its own unique strain. She lifted her head and walked to the starting line, careful not to let the strain show. She was Rainbow Dash! she had a reputation to uphold!

The whistle sounded, and she was not, despite her name, off in a dash. She started off at a walk, leaning forward, slowly building up her speed across her smoothest gaits. She couldn't afford to burn herself out trying to start quickly. She let the weight carry her forward, the momentum, making it easier to keep running than to try to stop. Woog! This wasn't quite the same as a cold front, after all - these potatoes weren't entirely moving on their own, she still had to keep up their weight, but they *did* keep her moving forward.

By the time she'd reached fifty yards, the worst was over. Now she had her secret card to play ... it was like none of these amateurs knew how to bank! She swung out wide, not trying to hug the flag at the far end, but instead adding distance to her 200 yard run by swinging out by at least 20 yards... then, leaning towards the center, she pulled around, never slowing down, making a wide circle that skimmed right past the flag and reached 20 yards out on the far side, then making her way back in towards the center, her race route more like a giant teardrop without a straight line to its name. Now it was nothing but the home stretch, and her legs were certainly feeling it ... but she knew that she had better time than *any* of them, with that maneuver. She went through the finish line at top speed, and didn't even try to stop, but just kept going, her legs complaining, but not nearly so much as they would if she tried to come to a dead stop! She couldn't even hear the crowd, not with her breath rasping in her throat and her heart pounding in her ears.

She made slow, banking circles as she slowly worked against the momentum of the potatoes, letting herself slow down easily... she groaned as she finally made it down to a walk, not having the energy to lift the potatoes off of her own back ... but thankfully, there was the officials, taking the weight for her. It was only then that she staggered off to collapse into the grass. *pwew*

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