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A True Champion

It was a hot, humid St. Louis day when the reigning champion pulled into the empty parking lot. Since the bakery had closed some months prior, there was no wafting scents of donut goodness to distract him from his quest. With his computer bag fastened securely over his shoulder and his shoe laces sufficiently tied, he went down the ridge to the road that would take him toward the Banyan office.

This journey was not a mere stroll across the lot. It was the stuff legends–like himself–were made of. A year ago, he had gone head-to-head in competition with the office great and emerged victorious. But now, as he trekked along the road with dark clouds beginning to form overhead, he saw it slipping away.

The challenge was simple enough: walk the farthest to the office. Simple, but not easy. It was Week 8 of the 12-week challenge and Bill had ground to make up. The previous week, Bill had parked on the very edge of New Town. The 1.07 mile one-way walk to the office was a loss. His competitors did a 1.94-mile park and a 2.1-mile park.

Bill made the fateful decision that, to gain a few extra steps on the competition, he would take a nature trail into New Town. Halfway through the trail–drenched from rain and perspiration–Bill realized he had committed a grave error. The trail was, in fact, not leading him to New Town. On the contrary, it was leading him away from New Town and away from the Banyan office.

He paused for a moment, his destination–an upper-floor cubicle office with two monitors and an external keyboard with design shortcuts–so close. He had a choice: he could cut across the fields and match his competitors from the previous week or he could continue on to wherever the winding trail might lead. In the end, there was no choice. Heat. Rain. Distance. It was nothing to him. He was Bill Marchant, Parking Challenge Champion.

Bill whipped out his phone and sent his competitors a message that will live in infamy: “I’m going to be late.” Deep down, he was aware of the terror he had struck in their hearts. The parking challenge contest was never going to be the same.

For 25 more minutes, he sloshed through the remains of the trail, two subdivisions, and two construction areas. When he arrived at the office, he was crowned the week’s champion. He had walked 2.94 miles into the office. It was the greatest park in challenge history by a significant margin.

By Week 11, the standings were mathematically locked and Bill went from Grand Champion to 3rd Place. And while no longer a champion, he was still a legend. Despite ending up in first place and racking up 12.41 one-way miles in 10 weeks of active competition, I never beat Bill’s epic 2.94 mile walk.

Here’s to you, Bill. A true legend. I will keep the crown warm.