ARCHIVE LIBRARY

PERSISTENCE AND PERCEPTION …

by Dr. Randy Tompkins

When I was in Junior High School, I ran on the track team. I usually trained for the 220 yard dash (1/16th mile) and the 440 yard run (1/4th mile). The 440 race was not long, to a 13 year old. But, you had to race hard to win the race.

Today, I use a GPS to take me to the places where I am to speak. Invariably one of the verbal directions the GPS will give is, “Turn left in one-quarter of a mile.” I will look down the road and see where I am turning and usually comment “I used to run that far for fun?” The perception of the length of a quarter mile has changed as I have grown older.

There was a track meet in Northeast Oklahoma that hosted Junior High track teams from schools in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas. In 1960, our track team was scheduled to participate in this long standing meet. I was not scheduled to run in any of the races, but I had to be present and suited up ready to hop onto the track at a moment’s notice.

As the day wore on, I became bored staying on the infield of the track watching all my teammates participating in their events. Suddenly I heard my name being called by my coach. When I ran to him, he announced I would be inserted into the 880 yard (1/2 mile) relay race in the third position.

The relay team was composed of four young men each running a 220 yard dash race. It takes 30 to 40 seconds to run a 220 yard race around the curve of the track. As time drew close to the start of the race, our entire team gathered around the four of us who would be running the race. Words of encouragement were quietly spoken to each of us by all team members.

Charlie McMath moved next to me and pointed out one of the boys from another team and then stated “That boy is the fastest guy on the field today. He is in the third slot for his school.” Oh boy!

The first leg runners took their places on the starting line. Halfway around the track, the second leg boys awaited the arrival of the batons. Those of us running the third leg would take our places as soon as the starting boys left the start/finish line.

The gun sounded, off they went, and we took our places. Sure enough, the fastest boy at the track meet was in the lane next to me. We turned to see the second leg runners were finishing the turn and heading our way. The young man next to me and I received our batons at the same time. He led me by a step and then I took the lead. This exchange continued around the curve. As we exited the turn he took a very short lead. When we handed the baton off to the fourth leg runners the other team had a two yard lead.

As we came to a stop, we turned to see how the race would finish. Ronald Cherry was our fourth leg runner. He overtook the other team and we won the race.

At the awards ceremony, we were called to the podium to receive our medals. After we were recognized, the announcer told those on the field and in the stands that the Junior High Track 880 yard relay team had broken the record for the race that had stood for 50 years. None of us even knew what had happened until it was announced.

Here are some things I learned from that experience: 1) Always be ready, you never know when you will be called. So be prepared; 2) Do not be absorbed by whomever is your opponent; 3) Celebrate your work no matter what it is; and, 4) A quarter mile is a lot longer at 75 years old than at 13 years old.

Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go …

In Christ’s Service,

Dr. Randy Tompkins

Interim Senior Adult Minister Calvary Baptist Church

Visit our Website: https://calvarynet.net/

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