Her lungs felt like bursting, her legs had no energy left in them. Still she pushed herself on. The bell rang for the final lap of the track.

She pictured that tunnel of trees over and over in her mind. How many times had she ran through it? How many 5 a.m. starts, up and straight into her running gear and out she went. Rain, hail or shine.

The lonely hours toiling away down forest paths, along roadsides and on the training track. The days when she wanted to be anywhere else. The friends and family she hadn’t seen for weeks or months at a time.

The crowd roared her down the back straight. She felt a final surge of adrenaline. Her thighs felt energised, she kicked on. She passed the Kenyan and saw the open track in front of her. Round the top bend the crowd were on their feet.

She risked a quick look round, even though her coach always told her not too. She was five metres clear. She just had to keep going. It had all been worth it.

All those sacrifices, including her morals.

She fell to the ground as she passed the finishing line. Noise surrounded her. Other athletes congratulated her, pulled her to her feet and draped a flag around her.

The lap of honour passed her by in a sweep of relief, tiredness and elation. She saw her parents in the crowd, beaming at her.

As she left the arena, an official approached her.

‘Dominika Ivanov, you have been selected for a random drug test, please follow me.’

She thought back to the tunnel of trees and the sides closed in on her world and went black.

Copyright Sue Vincent

This is a response to the Thursday Photo Prompt – Track curated over at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. Click on the link to read other stories inspired by the image.

26 responses to “AT ALL COSTS”

  1. Oh, no. Talk about bad timing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They do seem to get caught fairly regularly, but I wonder how many get away with it.


      1. Yes. Good story. Big question, though. Did she get nailed or did she pass?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. In the current climate – nailed, made up an excuse, got a short ban, back in no time – but didn’t get to keep the medal.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Some things are not worth the winning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think she will learn that the hard way.


  3. What! No, they must have it wrong she wouldn`t But I know her I ran with her through your tale and I would have known, I would have spotted something. Wouldn`t I?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s amazing what honest people will do just to win…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am so disappointed in her.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Fantasy Raconteur Avatar
    Fantasy Raconteur

    Ouch x)
    Great story!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like she had auditioned for a game show: “…you’ve been selected…”
    Maybe this wasn’t her lucky day

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The prize on this game show is not one she wants to win.


    1. Summed up nicely! 🙂


      1. And it’s all going to hit the fan!😱💜

        Liked by 1 person

  6. You really tapped into the hard work and agonies of a long distance runner – all that effort and pain, and then for the possibility for it all to be taken away. This has great emotional effects, but cheats shouldn’t prosper.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I agree, couldn’t let her get away with it in the end.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: