Martin Scales had been preparing for this day for months. Training with his father gave Martin a good feeling. His smile could have tipped anyone off.
He did a lot of things with his Dad. The were father and son; they were pals. It was the biggest thrill when they arrived in the morning for his first 5K race. Martin wasn’t sure if he would finish, but he was going to give his maximum effort.
Dean Scales was apprehensive at first,but Martin had all the determination of a warrior. It would serve him well.
Dean pinned the large number on Martin’s back. His son felt like an athlete and Dean couldn’t be anymore proud that Martin decided to attempt this race. The starter fired his pistol and the pack was off. Dean and Martin kept a steady pace, but the groups of runners left them in their wake quickly.
Martin gave a valiant effort and his father would not have blamed him if Martin wanted to stop. But looking over his shoulder he saw his son; the little engine that wasn’t going to be stopped.
Martin’s breathing was heavy and sweat poured off his forehead. His face was red, but his arms churned up and down, driving his pace. Dean slowed up to stay close to Martin, feigning shortness of breath.
“Want to call it quits, son?” dean huffed.
“NO!” Martin said as he hurried past his Dad.
Dean was so in awe of his son, and follow his lead. They continued along the route and Dean noticed the crowds of spectators was getting sparse and the sky was darkening quickly. He was committed to helping Martin see this through.
Two and a half hours had passed. There were no other runners in sight ahead of them. Martin stumbled and fell, skinning his knee. Tears streamed down his cheek as he rubbed his wound.
“Martin?” Dad pleaded.
The young man sniffed in the next tear and rose to his feet, flexing his knee. And he began again. One hundred yards to the finish line. Workers were removing the barriers and cleaning up the staging area. They stopped when they saw Martin.
The foreman put his barrier down and started slapping his hand together. More people followed. Surprisingly, there was a crowd of people still assembled at the finish line. Martin heard a familiar voice. His Mother called his name.
“C’mon Martin! A little more!”
Other people shout to him too. His face beamed. His knee didn’t hurt any longer. His father brought up the rear, watching as his son crossed the finish line arms aloft.
The crowd surrounded Martin. They shook his hand. His Mother embraced him. People continued to cheer.
And Dean stood amazed that his Down Syndrome son was able to finish his race. It was a complete victory long after the last runner had preceded Martin Scales over the final line. It was Martin’s victory. It tasted sweet, as victories should.