Where I’m from, 10million Naira is a lot of money. But after my Gulder Ultimate experience, I have come to believe that it is a LOT MORE money where some other people are from. I mean, I used to think I desperately needed money and fame, but there are thousands of people who need it more desperately.
I’ve been registering for the GUS show since I became eligible in the 3rd season, and they’ve been inviting me for the screening, but something always came up. This year though, there was no reasonable excuse because I was on holiday. Right now, as I type this piece from my bed, in pains, I wish I was reasonable enough to stay at home.
I thought I had muscles, until I got to the Dan Anyiam Stadium on the 28th of August 2013. See crowd; crowd of bouncers and practicing athletes. If not for the fact that I actually traveled all the way to Owerri for the screening I would have turned back. Well, that and the fact that I have a big ego. Anyways, I went in, changed into my sport kits and sat down on the pitch like others, awaiting my turn on the marathon.
So many things look very easy on TV. You see people doing it and you say, “piece of cake, I can do this too”. Well, news flash guys; competitive MARATHONS are deadly. Especially if you’ve been sitting at home doing nothing but eat, sleep, read, write and get fat, like I’d been doing.
Each group ran in 20s and depending on how competitive they are, everyone in a group could proceed to the next stage. Sometimes though, the slowest ones were dropped. The aim was just to see how fit everyone was. Coming first didn’t matter. But coming last could.
Anyways, when others were running I was laughing at those who were far behind. I called them lazy goats. If they couldn’t run ordinary 2 laps – 800meters, why register for Gulder Ultimate Search? Well, my turn was coming. And finally, it came.
When the whistle went off, I hustled my way to the front. I was leading. I felt fly. All these kids aint got nothing on me. Well, when we rounded the first bend, I decided to slow down a bit. I mean, what’s the rush? One person passed me, then two, then three, then …. After the first lap I was in the tenth position. By the time we got to 500meters I’d lost count of all the people who had passed me. After running about 600meters, I started hearing angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus. Brethren I was dying. Then a voice started asking me to just stop and lie down for a while, just a little while. The wonderful voice told me it wasn’t a do or die affair, I should just stop and crawl away from it all. I paused a little, looked back, saw four guys far behind me, muttered ‘hope dey’ and trudged on. One of them eventually passed me before we got to the finish line. I barely made it because the last three guys behind me were evicted from the competition.
The next drill was ‘squats’: Deadly squats. The first set was stopped after 3mins, 20 seconds. You need to see people’s legs dancing makosa. I couldn’t even laugh my head off because I was too tired from the marathon and I knew it was going to be my turn soon. I mean, some people who topped their group in the marathon couldn’t do the squat. How could I that came 17th do it? How? See how people were collapsing and screaming Jesus’ name up and down … my mind cut. Well, my turn finally came – the last set. They put the girls in front and put us behind them. The whistle went off and we squatted. It wasn’t so bad at first. Till we hit two minutes. I thought it was a joke when my legs started vibrating. My legs have never vibrated like that before. I started thinking about very abstract things: thermodynamics, bole, roasted fish, Tonto Dike’s music and finally the love of my life. That helped, till it didn’t anymore. Then this guy in front of me (God bless his soul) started making small swinging motions. I copied him and it worked. Whenever I felt a bit relieved I stopped and when I felt like giving up I started those motions.
Front, back, left, right, people were just collapsing but I was having a ball, a terrible one though. After about 4minutes, the remaining girls were asked to stand easy. I started praying. The swinging motions were not even helping anymore. People around kept collapsing but I stayed. Prayed. And…mercifully, the whistle went off, after five plus minutes. I was the only person who didn’t collapse immediately. I did a few stretches and tried walking away like a boss. Thank God the camera didn’t catch me when my feet buckled and I fell.
On to the next drill – different variations of ‘picking the ball’. Heartland FC had an NPL football match against Kano Pillars so we were moved to the stadium’s handball court. I knew it was a bad idea the moment I stepped into that court. The main pitch was covered with the same material used in covering race tracks, while the surrounding was rough coal-tarred. The balls were placed in front of the perimeter brick-wall and the aim of the game was to race across, pick a ball and return to where you started. The fastest runners were selected. When it got to a few groups before mine, a different variation was introduced. 12 balls were dropped while 20 of them had to race across and try to pick one. Only those who picked a ball qualified for the next round.
Well, I finally lined up. To hasten things up, 5 balls were added to the 12 and 6 guys joined us. 26 macho men; 17 balls …Tu Face’s ‘Ihe ge me’ started playing in my head. I wasn’t scared though. I may not be good with marathons but short sprints are my thing. And the distance to the wall was approximately 60 meters. The whistle went off and we charged. Of cause I was in front of the guys around me. My eyes were set on the blue ball and when I finally got there, I grabbed it with joy. That was when it happened.
You wouldn’t appreciate what I’m going to say if you’ve never been hit by a vehicle before. I had the ball firmly in my grip when about 4 bodies slammed into mine, American football style. I was later told that the sound my head made when it impacted the wall was heard at the other end of the pitch. For about 10 seconds I didn’t know where I was. The disorientation was total. When I came round, the race was over and my precious blue ball was not in my hand. I shook the nausea off and strolled straight to the medical-van, close to where the ‘winners’ were assembled. Normally, those who didn’t qualify were ushered out immediately so they won’t blend in with the winners. It was like magic when nobody stopped me. I just got to the doctor and said, “my head”. He said he heard the sound too and gave me an ice-pack to press it with. He collected cotton-wool and started cleaning my knee. That was when I even noticed I was seriously bleeding there. I was just praying I hadn’t gotten a concussion.
Anyways, after a while I felt better. I was supposed to immediately go carry my bag and go back home, but … I majestically strolled to where the ‘winners’ queued up to register their names and collect tags for the next round. Again nobody stopped me. I registered my name and collected my tag. I was in the next round.
Err….don’t call me a cheat please. I had the ball in my hand before I was battered so it was only fair that I proceeded to the next round … on merit. I mean, I couldn’t even chew anything that night because the left part of my head was swollen. How could I have suffered all that pain for nothing?
The next day was swimming. Long story short, we swam in fours. I came second and the ‘fish’ who came first (may thunder fire him very well) qualified for the next round. That’s where my Search ended. The idiots didn’t even allow me use the changing room. They asked me to leave the pool premises with only my trunks on. I had to change at the parking lot. Truly, nobody gives a damn about you when you’re not successful. But God will judge them anyway.
So many people have been consoling me and telling me next year will be better. I keep telling them I’m done. I have an engineering degree and in a few months I’d be done with NYSC. There has to be easier ways to make money men. GUS is not for me.
Later guys, the ‘wicked’ Ogoni woman that has been massaging my body has come.