Sweat poured down Alex’s forehead. He tried to focus, but his chest was tight with exhaustion. The screaming that surrounded him was barely audible, sounding further away every minute.
“Come on, Alex!”
The shout forced its way through the fog, and Alex blinked. He thought of Wolf, and the training exercises they had completed together. Two miles uphill, rain soaking through their gear, and rucksacks twice their weight dragging them down.
He clenched his jaw and pushed on. He passed others running in the same direction, and glimpsed the same determination on their faces.
“Come on, Alex! You can do this, okay? It’s just a few more feet.”
“I can’t, Wolf. I can’t do it. My feet are numb, and all this gear keeps making me slip.”
“You gotta push through it, Alex. If you don’t pass this, none of us do, and we’re stuck doing dishes for the rest of the week.”
Alex groaned. He didn’t want to get stuck doing boring chores, but he didn’t have any more strength. He collapsed to his knees, panting.
A hand gripped his arm and pulled him to his feet. “I’m not supposed to help you, but screw it.” Wolf pulled off Alex’s rucksack and slung it over his own shoulder. “Don’t say a word to the others. You’re getting this back before we reach the top.”
Alex nodded wearily. “Thanks, Wolf.”
“You can do it, Alex!” Tom shouted. Alex flashed him a grin and surged ahead of his classmates. He burst through the ribbon at the finish line to a chorus of cheers and shouts.
Sports Day had never been so much fun.