[P] No trophy, no flowers, no flashbulbs, no wine
LCSS; Foot Race
[Image: dcg.png] Lancaster Stockshow : Foot Race, Date :  Wednesday, September 7th This is the Foot Race! This is a Lupus form event, running along relatively difficult terrain. Due to the highly populated and quick nature of the Lancaster Stockshow, players involved have 72 hours to reply to this thread or miss their successive turn.

A hot morning had bled into a hazy, pleasant afternoon, cooling slowly with the reprieve of some much-desired cloud cover. They crawled lazily overhead – gray and white, thick enough to look like a blanket, though with thinning patches through the wool with which blue peered through invitingly. Summer was drawing to a close. Even the trees knew this. Leaves were starting to dapple yellow.

Esperanza had stared upwards at them for a long while as chatter filtered along the lake’s pebbled beach, contestants shifted down to baser, faster forms in anticipation for a good sprint up through the rolling foothills and back down along the waterline. With her face upturned, she tested the air, let her eyes slip closed, and took in the moment – just a tick, just a little taste – to feel the seasonal change.

It was nice.

Not choosing to dally further, she stood and stretched out – leaning back into her own hips with forelimbs outstretched, only to crane forward and dip them down towards the earth. The breath eased from her in a strained little hiss through her nose.

”Is everyone here? Is everyone ready?” she asked aloud to the gathered, mostly strangers to Del Cenere, save for the mottled, ever bubbly looking Bisbee. She offered over a quick smile. ”The path has been marked out in flags, so it shouldn’t be too hard to follow, but, I’ll be right behind everyone in case anything happens. If you do manage to get lost, just give a bark n’ a holler, and I’ll come find you.”

Esperanza tipped her muzzle downwards to pick up a branch of gnarled driftwood, and laboriously dragged it across the rocks and the sand in a jagged and untidy line – in retrospect, perhaps, she should have done this when she had the precision of her hands; This would need to be remembered for next year, at the very least. Mildly flustered at the effort and doubtlessly goofy motions of etching the starting line, she dropped the branch and licked at her lips, partly to try and clear the grit off her tongue, lips curling and whiskers bristling at the taste.

”We start here,” she finally managed once her mouth felt clear. ”On my mark – get set – race!”

OOC: Good morning, lupus participants! <: We are on Moosehead Lake's beach on the Western end of Charmingtown! The race will take competitors up along the coast and into the rolling foothills edging the Debouille Reserve, and into Tall Tree around the looping trails of the Ojo del Diablo, and back down the steep slopes and cliffsides edging the water back down. Information for the Foot Race event's mechanics are listed in our Discord, and the post order will be determined after all participants have made their initial posts in this thread after the first round of rolls!
Bat was surprised that she knew everyone at the Foot Race except one female. Two of them were loners (her pals Odie and Marten), then there was the stranger, and Battalion was one of three New Caledonians competing. Apparently Del Cenere hadn't had as many canines interested in this one as they had all the archery and horse-related event. At least no one - except the female she didn't know - could have home advantage of knowing the area where they were running better than others. None of the other present canines should have knowledge of Del Cenere's terrain.

Leon listened as Esperanza gave them the information to follow for the race. She wondered if there were rules here about tripping up your fellow racers. Nothing was said about it and good sportsmanship said not to tackle someone else to get ahead. Still, she wouldn't put it past Hokori. If anything could get that wolf ahead, she'd take the opportunity. The long-earred Commoner was going to stay as far as she could from Hoko in the race. Although she'd like to stay near to Odie and Marten, she couldn't be sure of that. It was a race, after all. While she could keep an eye out for the Reaver, she couldn't exactly stay with anyone.

As the race was called to begin, she shot forward. Lorien was quicker across the sand than she had been and she was impressed. It inspired her to want to go faster almost as much as wanting to be far away from Hokori did. Steady was what was going to win the race, though, not wasting her energy on bursts of speed. She tried to keep her breathing on a good pace, kicking up wet sand behind her as she ran. No one else seemed to be ahead of her other than Lorien, but she couldn't look back to see where anyone else was. The dark wolf hoped that her friends were doing better than her enemy. Although this was just the first stretch of land they had to get through; starting out strong definitely didn't mean she'd be in second place at the end.

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
Things were alright for Lorien as of late. The Stockshow was not as terrible as he had so pessimistically assumed initially. This was a good thing, because Liam had managed to persuade him into signing up for the foot race. He had told him he thought he might be interested since running was restricted to Lupus. He was glad that Liam admired his skill. In fact, he was really glad. He knew he would never receive the same recognition from his father. But that was made it embarrassing. He felt it was just out of pity and not because they all thought he was actually skilled or anything.

Well, he would show them he was skilled. He would prove it.

Esperanza Tejada, someone of higher standing among the Ashen, called out to them all and reminded them of the details of the race. She mentioned how she would make sure no one got lost, and Lorien could not help but snicker quietly to himself. If he saw anyone get lost, he would no doubt find it humorous. Unless he was lost. Then he would not be so amused.

"On my mark," she said. Lorien squared his haunches, muscles bunching. He slowed his breathing and focused his eyes ahead. "Get set. Race!"

Lorien launched himself forward. The initial sprint was just as important as the later endurance. He burst ahead, his paws thundering forth. He left most in the dust, this he knew, but Battalion was close behind him. Of all the racers he could choose to be on his tail, he would most definitely prefer it be her. She was not known for any nasty tricks, and she was a pack-mate. Even if she claimed first place, she would be bringing honor home for their pack.

The first stretch soon began to change shape under his paws. It was sandy and difficult terrain initially, and it only bottlenecked as he progressed forth. If he got too close to anyone else, they would have to take an alternative path. He was not giving up the primary one; not while he was in the lead.

The beach flattened, and Lorien saw verdant meadow roll in from the horizon. The second stretch was approaching.
[+370] | Ooc:
Hokori ◈ Tanaka

▫I̴ ̶a̵m̶ t̸h̴e̸ ̵Pa̶i̷n̷,
▫The Rea̶̡̚p̸̦̈er̵̗̓, 
▫T̶̙͝h̶̢̄ḛ̶͛ Struc̷̙̿t̴̥͆ǘ̷̩re o̴͕̿f̵͉͝ ̶̧̛Lie̷͍̚s̷͛.̴̦̑.

Four little paws stamped and stomped against the wet sandiness, Hokori sniffing the air as she adjusted to being so low to the ground. As a swordswoman and a blacksmith she considered her thumbs to be the most important part of her body so it was rare for her to spend time in her smaller forms. Small of course being relative, what with her Lupus being comparable to other people's Secui.

The shift in perspective was a strange one. The mule she had borrowed from NC seemed so much larger now, a big ole brute that could have crushed her skull if it felt like it. Was this how Arran felt, always wary of any animal bigger than him? It seemed like an uncomfortable existence, not one she wanted to live for very long. 

And she wouldn't have to. As soon as the race was over she'd be back to her long-limbed, loot-grabbing self. In the meantime she'd make use of her current form's greater endurance. There was a long road ahead and she'd need every ounce of stamina she could muster. 

It surprised her how few of the contestants were Gangsters, the locals outnumbered three to one by Caledonians alone. NC had no excuse now, if one of them didn't come in first Hoko would beat Lorien's, Battalion's and then her own ass. 

"I hear you loud and clear boss. I'm ready to run!" 

The giant Reaver practically bounced in place, working out any last minute kinks as the proctor drew their starting line. The awkward pause made her ears flicker, the moment of anticipation setting her teeth on edge.

Wait for it...waiiit for it...


Hokori leapt forward at the sound of the proverbial gun, a cackle leaving her as she indulged in the primal joy of running. Had her packmates lagged she likely would have been too focused on winning to enjoy herself but with Lorien first and Battalion second she was free to breeze into third. The Cenere-scented coydog was somewhere behind her and everyone else even further back as the beach rolled into floodplain.

Caledonia would clutch this, they had to. 


Bisbee Whitesage

Race time had come at last! Bisbee was stoked! Her practice was sure to pay off and she was excited to show just how fast and far she could go. She lined up on the beach with the other contestants, barely registering them as she focused on making sure she herself was in the zone and limbered up for the event. Typically one to stay in her two legged form, it was a little odd being on all fours, but she wasn't necessarily a stranger to it. Her mama and pa back home had her doing some ranch work in this form so she knew well enough how to navigate in it without too much issue. It was natural after all.

As Esperanza dragged the branch in front of the contestants and addressed them, Bisbee smiled back at her and wagged her tail. She didn't mind that she was outnumbered. It only meant victory would be all the sweeter if she won! Glancing to see who was to her left and right (a very large black wolf that towered over everyone, and a brindled dog she'd seen around the stock show but knew nothing about) Bisbee breathed deeply to calm her nerves and prepared herself for the start of the race. She just needed to stick to her own lane and focus on not tangling up her own feet and she should be golden.

Ears perked as Esperanza started to count. "On my mark--" Bisbee crouched. "Get set--" She bunched her muscled, prepared to spring forward. "Race!"

The Whitesage girl propelled herself forward with a burst of speed, only to find that at least three of the others were faster. She didn't mind though, this was only the first leg of the race! She had plenty of time to get ahead. She knew the course was a long one and she didn't want to get too tired too quickly. Grinning broadly, she laughed joyously and ran along the beach, chasing after the tail of the big black wolfess but not encroaching on her space too badly yet. Behind her the other two contestants lagged slightly, but would certainly catch up.

The white male was in the lead, followed by the red wolfess, and still Bisbee paced herself, her paws sinking in to the sand. Up ahead she could see the meadow stretching out before them. She could maybe overtake some of the competitors there, but only if an opening allowed for it. Focusing on where the beach narrowed and flattened out into the opening of the field, Bisbee put on another small burst of speed...
OOC: Sorry for the delay on this! WC: [437]


Toes flexed into the sand, shifting restlessly as the diminutive coyote marked the starting line with a driftwood branch. For all his boasting to Bat about his speed and agility and preference for a good race, Odysseus looked -- if not quite nervous -- uncomfortable waiting among his competition.

While he could spend all day chasing and pouncing rabbits in the empty wilderness, it was entirely different standing shoulder-to-shoulder with (mostly) strangers in his Lupus form -- all of his stripes on display. His clothes had been neatly folded and tucked away for the event, and his shoulders even felt barren without silky hair brushing them. He felt unrecognizable, a far cry from the confident fighter he'd been the first evening. Among a majority of wolves, he could have been any little mongrel.

Large ears pricked then flopped askew as the coyote called for a start to the race. Odysseus briefly bumped his shoulder against Battalion's and faked a big smile -- more for his comfort than her own -- then crouched. Perhaps if he pretended there was a hare bouncing along the trail, waiting to ambush it...


He burst forward, a leap that was over-enthusiastic -- because once he landed, his paws hit soft, wet sand. He skidded, nearly losing his footing, but bared his teeth and pushed off again. His spine bowed and flexed, his narrow dark snout thrust ahead, amber eyes narrow with focus. He was fast, yes, but his fumble had cost him, and by the time he'd caught up with the other racers, they were bottlenecked.

He nearly bumped the haunch of the red merle mutt ahead of him, then with a bitten-off curse, adjusted his trajectory, springing up onto the rocks for an alternate path. The dusty pathway allowed him to keep his speed, and as he jumped down onto sand again, Odie could see the plain ahead. Doubtless his taller competition would take advantage of their longer strides once they had open space to sprint.

As they made the turn, Odie -- energized and frustrated -- started barking.

[Image: odiedodie.gif]
Marten tippy-tapped her toes in the wet sand, bouncing and sneezing in excitement. The previous night’s nerves had disappeared, replaced by the unbridled joy of competition; losing didn’t matter as long as she had fun! And how couldn’t she? Her stomach was full of tasty Moosehead Lake water, her legs were limber and well-rested, and she was ready to race!

The forest-eyed yearling was far too excited to be in a big, official race with her friends to pay much attention to the other canines she was competing against. There was Leon, Odie, Hokori — who would probably win the race, if she was as fast as she was strong — and… The other folks! She didn’t know their names, but one was a leggy, white and gray dog and the other was a mottled, brownish one.

She did pay attention to the rules though, because the last big, pack-sanctioned event she’d been in, she uh… Kind of almost ate her team’s flag. Which was a totally normal and valid way to keep it away from the other team, but hadn’t been appreciated by her fellow players. So Marten listened, and Marten listened really well, and she kept on listening until Esperanza explained the rules.

Follow the flags, holler if something went wrong, don’t kill each other. Simple! Marten could do this, and she wouldn’t do anything wrong like she had last time because she didn’t want to look silly in front of Leon. At least, not silly in a bad way; she thought she’d done a pretty good job of making herself look silly in a good, charming, snuggleable way.

”On my mark – get set – race!”

Entirely caught off guard by Esperanza’s announcement, Marten watched from her ready to run position as everyone else took off except her — and Odie, sort of, since he almost fell over from slipping in the wet sand. ”Hey!” Marten barked, taking off like a shot, just… A little late!

With her paws pounding against the wet, uneven sand, she had time to take in the competition from a hopefully recoverable last place. The leggy white dog was really fast, the fastest from standing, but so was Battalion who was hot on his heels. Hokori had to be pacing herself, because she was only in third. The mottled, brownish dog was in fourth, probably because she hadn’t stumbled or missed the starting bark, and Odie was in fifth.

Marten resisted the urge to jump up on the rocks after her friend, not wanting to fall or stray too far from the path. She could see the meadow up ahead, knew that the slippery lakeshore would soon become verdant grass, and chose patience instead — which was very strategic of her, she thought. The last thing Marten wanted was for dust and rocks to cloud her vision, or even risk hitting her, as one errant pebble did when Odie jumped back onto the sand.

As much as she wanted to bark back at him, she held her tongue to conserve her breath. Marten knew she was fast and could run a long time; as leggy as some of her competition was, if she could pace herself without falling too far behind, she might be able to win!
The bubbly apprehension of pre-event jitters rippled through the assembled crowd and only continued to mount in pressure as everyone geared up to spring into action once her call had been made.

And once it has been unleashed, spring they certainly did; Esperanza was unfortunately quiet meager in size compared to the litany of participants, especially the Caledonians – and, the moment the silky-haired, long-limbed pale fellow was off, he quickly seized the lead with a flinty, frightening look in his eye. Shortly thereafter, his two compatriots fell in line, followed quickly on the heel by Bisbee.

Esperanza watched them barrel their way down the sands, clumps of earth n’ grit hot in their wake, while Odysseus and Marten brought up the flank of the group. There was a little leap in her chest with the anxiety once the striped fellow with the bouncing ears had stumbled, only to take a path with some obstacles to clear, veered off course – though, before long, he thundered back onto the strip of beach that began to slope upwards to the meadow grasses, slowly bleaching out gold from their summer greens the longer they baked beneath the hot sun. Someone had begun to bark.

There was a thrill to this – an instinctive pull that Esperanza could not resist as her tail flagged, bounding after the contestants with her ears twitching and rotating with every sound only to fold back to keep the wind clear, and her whiskers twitched, muscles and senses a-buzz with stimuli as her gold eyes bounced and skimmed from her vantage point.

And she yapped in answer, unable to resist. The sound was sharp, yet communicative – and, perhaps, unfortunately, a bit of an irritating and never-ending feedback loop. Every bark Odysseus gave of his own, came with her own in answer, broken up only by direction in speech as she called out to the leader, who’s hips were seemingly so much farther the longer he continued to sprint at that full kilter.

”Fence line! Fence line! Follow the fence line! To the trees!”

It had erupted almost sing-song in its direction.

Lorien Coara
Hokori Tanaka
Bisbee Whitesage
She wished that she could see Marten and Odie, because she wanted to feel like she was experiencing this with them. Not that she minded seeing Lorien, he was ... alright. They had met, at least. Hokori was closer to her than her friends, though, and it felt more like she was running away from the dark brute, not toward a finish line. It made her fear of failure rise back up again and she really didn't want that. Not again. Not like the Clay Pigeons.

At first when Bat heard Odie's bark, she startled and looked toward the sound. Her feet slowed some - probably just enough - because she was worried it was a frantic bark. Much as she wanted to win the race, the blue-eyed Commoner would always prioritize helping a friend over any sort of competition. She realized pretty quickly that it was just a lot of excited noise, but it had certainly impacted her time. Battalion couldn't blame him. It was a good technique or just a general excitement noise; either way, she couldn't fault Odysseus for making a lot of sound as he ran. Even if it had probably cost her position in the race.

In the time of her distraction, Hokori had taken advantage and gotten in front of her. The wolf couldn't see Lorien anymore, so perhaps he had fallen behind? Odie actually seemed to have made a lot of headway, too, possibly even ending up in the lead. For a moment it looked like him and Hoko were neck and neck. Tali shook her head and picked up speed. This was the easiest place to gain ground, she thought, before it would probably get narrower and harder to run near each other. Though she was sure there were side paths one could attempt to take in the more narrow area, too, it would probably not be wise. Better to stick to the beaten path to avoid injury or getting off track. At least that would be her plan.

There really was just one thought going through her mind, though. She was not going to let Hokori Tanaka beat her again.

When violet eyes get brighter
And heavy wings grow lighter
I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
Lorien was only briefly in the lead, for he soon found himself overtaken. The scenery, as quickly as it had changed, betrayed him and left him falling behind his competitors. Battalion and Hokori passed by him, which he did not mind as much (though he certainly would have preferred this not to happen). And then, another passed by him. Lorien was pretty sure he was a man, but it was difficult to have a look at him. All he knew was that his pelt was a dark, earthy streak as he slipped past both himself and his fellow Caledonians. He was even the one that barked earlier, annoyingly so. Beginner's luck. It must have been the fact that the open meadow was much less rough terrain to traverse. The grass and dirt did not have the excessive give that the sand had.

He grit his teeth in frustration, and continued to gallop his paws beneath himself. He was in his element here, for Lupus was a form he was more than familiar with. He frequented it about as often as any other. He could do this. He wanted to prove himself, to show his mother Medlihel that she could be proud. He could do so via other means if he did not win, but he would have felt much prouder of himself if he knew that he had won something at the Stockshow.

No matter. There were still three stretches left. It was far from over. This he knew. He still had a chance, and he was determined to not throw it away.

Nanin came to him then. He did not speak much in the way of specifically intelligible words, but he did give Lorien an encouraging feeling and warm sensation in his head. He felt reminded to breathe. It would not serve him to burn his lungs out whilst pondering on frustrations. He was a persistence predator, Nanin reminded him. They were created this way for endurance. Slow and steady. That was the way.

Lorien, more soothed and sure of himself, continued on. He enjoyed stretching his four legs out in this way, and did not even mind competing with others. It was a friendly spirit. However, if Hokori won and tried to rub it in his face at all, he might actually square up. He smirked to himself at the thought.

"I am right on your tail, Battalion!" he called breathlessly, the smile still on his face.
[+302] | Ooc:
Hokori ◈ Tanaka

▫I̴ ̶a̵m̶ t̸h̴e̸ ̵Pa̶i̷n̷,
▫The Rea̶̡̚p̸̦̈er̵̗̓, 
▫T̶̙͝h̶̢̄ḛ̶͛ Struc̷̙̿t̴̥͆ǘ̷̩re o̴͕̿f̵͉͝ ̶̧̛Lie̷͍̚s̷͛.̴̦̑.

Hoko was doing pretty well as she came into the second stretch, the soggy sand giving way to the firmer ground of the floodplain. The event's proctor called for the contestants to turn, voice raised in singsong above the chorus of barks that had started up for some reason. Hokori let the noise fade away under the sound of her paws flattening the grass beneath her.

The positions of the racers shuffled, Lorien's early lead dropping to a mediocre fourth place. He wasn't a problem for the moment, far enough away that Hoko could focus on the stranger she was neck and neck with. They ran in tandem alongside the old fence, Hoko striving to shoulder past the rival and into first place...

No dice, the dog was just too fast. No matter, there was still plenty of race left to go. In the meantime Hoko focused on who she was ahead of, calling back to Battalion.

"Excuse me!" she said with a snicker, her much larger body edging up alongside the little Commoner. "Lemme just scooch right on through..."

She was trying to physically block Battalion from passing, biding her time as opposed to bursting ahead to try and get through the stranger now in the lead. While she wasn't going to knock the opponent off her feet (although she could have, and would have found it funny) her sense of pack solidarity had melted away in a haze of competitiveness, her earlier (relative) victory over Bat not forgotten. 

Hey, if Hokori won Caledonia won so it was all fair and square. Surely neither of her packmates would begrudge her a little gloating? And if they did well then they'd just have to fight her, oh well. 

The thought made her smile even as she panted.


Bisbee Whitesage

The terrain switched to the grassy fields of Debouille Reserve and so switched the positions of the racers. With the erruption of barking behind her Bisbee too had slowed in her steps to look at who had caused the commotion, only to lose her standing as some racers passed her and the white male up front (whom she recalled was named Lorien) lost his lead. Huffing at her loss of concentration, the coydog put on another burst of speed, her tongue lolling from her maw as she panted joyously, not worried yet about having fallen behind. There were still a few more stretches of raceway yet and she could get lucky!

As Esper directed the pack of them from the back, her own yapping almost as distracting as the brindled loners was, Bisbee gave a short bark or two of her own in response before falling quiet again and focusing on the path ahead. She was chasing after Lorien's tail who was hot the heels of the red hued woman. If she could just squeeze her way passed the long legged male, she might have a chance at overtaking the wolfess too. So far though, there wasn't any good openings. The large, dark female ahead with the brindled barker, were eating up the trail. Still running in a manner to conserve energy Bis wondered what kinds of side trails there might be in the next stretch that she might be able to take advantage of. Especially since she knew the territory better. Hmm. Was that cheating though?

Paws drummed through golden grasses and the fence posts flashed by as they guided her along. Still she couldn't quite find a way through the two contestants ahead of her. So, instead of wasting energy on trying to push through, she dropped back a step or two to hopefully bide her time...
OOC: --- WC: [309]


Golden-yellow grass prickled his feet and bowed around his lean form as, erupting into barks to expend his pent-up energy, Odie sprinted through the field in an attempt to overtake his competition. His gamboge eyes fixed ahead to the fenceline pointed out by the coyote yapping in the back, bright with a fervor that surprised him. His heart thundered as it would during a fight, his body interpreting his nervousness coupled with the sudden sprinting as alarm and sending a surge of adrenaline that saw him zipping through the ranks.

That, and the barking helped.

Guilt pinned his ears briefly as he saw Battalion jerk her head around, but he used her hesitation and the others' to sprint past them, using the ample space in the plain of grass to avoid bumping shoulders. Momentarily, he was neck-and-neck with the giant charcoal she-wolf, but she was less manueverable and so he managed to pull ahead -- where, to his surprise, there was no other racer to be seen.

He was in the lead, though he doubted it would be for very long. He'd used a lot of energy in this first burst, and he needed to conserve some of this if he hoped to last until the end. His tongue lolled, silent but for gulps of air as he heard the other racers banter behind him, his gaze seeking flashes of color that would flag the next stretch.

[Image: odiedodie.gif]
Wet sand turned to damp earth and long, swaying grass, and Marten’s paws hit the ground more stably than they had before. The chorus of barking that erupted from her competitors and their guide was hard to resist, and she threw her head back to woo with the group before returning her focus to the race. She panted into the wind as they were directed toward the fence line, a clear marker that would keep them from going too off course.

That didn’t stop her from tripping over a rock, though. Marten yelped and careened forward toward the ground, certain she was going to smash her muzzle into the dirt, but caught herself just before disaster.

Marten’s stumble hadn’t made her fall behind, but that was only because she was still in last place. It was frustrating! She loved running, and she loved racing, but she wanted to impress her friends too; how could she do that if she was so far behind them? She could barely see what was happening at the front of the pack! Odie was in the lead, and Leon was only a few places behind him, and she was dead last.

Growling under her breath, Marten sped up to try and catch up with the mottled dog in front of her. It wasn’t working — not yet, because her opponent was speeding up too — but she was trying! Marten was trying so hard, and she believed in herself. And she wasn’t the only one! Bear did, and Caribou did, and Lynx did, and Chipmunk did, and they were all encouraging her to run. Run until she won, or at least got really close.

The yearling ducked as another small rock flew toward her face. She wondered if her competition was dodging stones too, or if that was just her luck for being in last place. At least dust wasn’t being kicked up everywhere; she’d never make any progress if her chest was full of dirt, because breathing was more important than running. Or well, it usually was. Marten supposed there were probably situations where running was way more important than breathing, but she was too busy doing both those things as efficiently as she could to think about it anymore.

Despite Marten’s frustration, she was determined to at least get second to last place. Everyone who didn’t win lost, sure, but she wouldn’t be the worst loser of them all! At least… Well, at least as long as it wasn’t Leon or Odie who got last place instead. Then Marten, as much as she wanted to be a little closer to winning than the other racers, would fall just a little behind them so they could win a little more instead. That was what friends did for each other, she was pretty sure.

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