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Burnsall Feast Sports

We do it, I know not why?

The sun beat down in the height of the afternoon. Coins are rolled and lines are cast. Children laugh at the antics of Punch and old ladies flutter on tombola drums.

The fell-side lays still and the grass shimmers; a flag furls in the listless breeze about the cairn, silent and waiting. From lunch the time drifts slowly and imperceptibly, then there is one hour to go and half of that spent in contemplation. Ageing muscles feel tense and need to be stretched; first leg then t'other is coaxed and cajoled into preparation.

I stand midst the crowd and I look at my watch - 5 minutes, no more. I glance to the cairn, seemingly distant and high. A gun explodes in my ears and legs start to move. First thrusts are for speed to rush through the gate but soon lungs are bursting without enough air. Bodies surround me, nudge me and jar me but then I feel lonely with a lot more to do.

A wall it is crossed and a gate it is through and up the steep bracken, 'tis not fair on me. In Indian file we trudge and we strain, no strength left to run, little enough just to walk. The cairn is ahead, I muster again - a jog or a run must be my aim.

The shouts and the cries urge me on to the stones and relief at the sight leaves me with little to spare. Gravity's my friend when I turn and I drop, as
in a suicide fling I descend o'er the rocks. With jelly-like knees and rubberised limbs, I go like hell. A slide and a fall and the mind is all blank; the man just in front is all I can see and shouts from aside are lost to my ears.

The road at last comes into sight and I put on a spurt but legs younger than mine go passed and I gasp; but I finished the race, I completed the course and I'll do it again, I know not why?

(M.G. - 1991)