1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


 Alex McLaughlin Aug. 10, 2009

Two weeks out from the big race that Rick Hughes I will run in Charleston, West Virginia on September 5th. All through my life when I played ball or coached , I would always get very anxious immediately before any contest. No matter how hard I had prepared and no matter how confident of prevailing in the contest at hand, I would always get very apprehensive right before the contest. Fear of failure? Fear of embarrassment? Fear of underperformance? Fear of defeat? 

At that moment with all of the preparation, my thoughts were if I just walked away I could not fail. Now on the back side of my competitive days my biggest fear is not failure of losing or not performing well but a fear that I won’t finish the race. Now wouldn’t it be so easy to walk away from that fear and not start the race. The anxiety and apprehension has started earlier this time. Can I look Rick Hughes in the face if I don’t finish the race? I am leafing through the yellow pages for a yoga teacher or a mediation teacher. My mind is racing out of control. The physical preparation is meaningless. This is all mental. My nerves are failing me. I am in paralysis. Is Rick having this same trepidation? 

No actually he is going to Las Vegas for a week at what should be the height of his training for the race. Is he marching to victory or marching to the restaurant? Surely if he and Barb are going to Las Vegas, they are going to eat and drink well. He will not have a lot of time for training. My anxiety is slowly slipping away. The stars are starting to align in my favor. But then I remember that my foe is Richard Hughes. Maybe he is going to Las Vegas to do blood doping and increase the oxygen in his blood or take steroids or have a secret meeting with Lance Armstrong to learn some secret chemicals to unlock the speed that is in his muscles. Or maybe he will go to a secret trainer that will enhance the utilization of the slow twitch muscles. My anxiety is heightening. My nerves are trembling. Rick Hughes has suckered me in again. While I am plodding along with my amateur training schedule in West Virginia, Rick Hughes is undertaking secret advanced distance training preparation in Las Vegas. My initial glee at the thought of him gorging himself in this modern day Sodom is replaced by the fear of the competitive edge that he is likely gaining in Nevada

It is 10 pm in the night. I feel compelled to go out and train in the middle of the night. To leave no stone unturned in my preparation to defeat my high school teammate and my life long friend. All of my jokes about the pebble in the shoe and untying his shoe strings have driven Rick to a competitive fury that means he will find defeat unacceptable. But I am tired. My daughter is getting married in October. Every day I work on holding my gut in so that I will be able to hold my gut in all during the wedding and reception. I will not embarrass my daughter in front of our new in laws. But the effort in holding my gut in has wore me out and I don’t know if I can stir up another ounce of energy to increase the pace of my training for the race. Two weeks out and I am in a panic. I need more time. Two weeks will not be enough to overcome “The Vegas Factor”. There is only one solution I am going to tell Rick that we are going to change the annual race to a race every two years and 2009 is an off year.

Comments by David Shields

McLaughlin has every reason to be full of fear and trepidation. I've been consulting with Hughes every week or so on the telephone, telling him how to smoke his competition in this upcoming race. Hughes tells me he has been following my advice and working overtime. The trip to Vegas is indeed for the sole purpose of honing up his will an fortitude and endurance. The boy, I believe, will be a formidable force and the bookies have made him a 6 to 5 favorite to smoke McLaughlin. And you know the bookies do not intend to give anybody a fair shake. My advice to everybody is to lay their money on Hughes. It's easy pickings.

Comments by Bobby Black

Dear folk of Alderson, Wolf Creek, Asbury, Blue Sulphur, Fort Spring, and Palestine......

I have some input, damn right I do!

For some time now I and others have been forced to read about two guys who want to beat one another in a foot race.

In Charleston? Someone has already built a home or government building on every speck of level land in this tired old town. So are they running up hill or down hill? We should be told.

Who gets the money collected (if there is a race) from the relatives who actually see this event? Better not put a Democrat in charge or you've lost your money. Same if it's a Republican.

So it's just two tired old farts running? I'll bet their wives could our run either of them. Remember the old story: A woman can run faster with her skirt pulled up than a guy with his pants falling down, something like that...

Finally, just who are Rusty and Rick? (I've forget their last names). I have checked with a couple of my remaining classmates of 1941 and neither has ever heard of them. (Though I'm not too sure if either heard the question, one even asked who I was).

I suspect a couple of tired old farts from Lewisburg are poking fun at our boys from Alderson. Those bastards never quit you know. Why most of them in that area think their town is actually a city. Really!

Anyway, I'll be glad when this race (?) is over and done with. We have other fish to fry.....

Response by Alex McClaughlin

To David Shields: While I respect the fact that without doubt you are the best athlete on the Aldersonian, I believe that you are encouraging good money (the readers of the Aldersonian) to chase bad money (yours) on this wager. In any case I hope that the Ware County Gators have a great season

To Bobby Black my BFFN (Best Friend For Now):  I could not have imagined how much you were going to enjoy our racing stories. First I cannot disclose whether the running course is uphill, downhill or flat as a pancake. If I did so you would know as much as I do. Then you could write these wonderful stories just as easily as I do.

Second, you were right about the women. There are indeed a number of females that beat us each year. It's terrible having to run behind all these young women,not.

Third, whereas Alderson is in two counties and almost in a third , I believe that we have a right to choose which town or city is our official county seat for both counties. I would nominate Union. This proves that we are not trolls from Lewisburg.


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