The other day, I began one of the most rigorous year-long competitions known to man. No, it isn’t P90X, as I’m pretty sure I could knock that out in six months or so. It’s not Tough Mudder or Crossfit or some other faddish exercise endeavor. It isn’t weight loss or some sort of existential finding of myself—No, you can leave the Yoga mat and incense at home.
I began a competition that will beat on for 365 days. It will be a year of training, of competing, of being drained mentally and finding some way—any way—to replenish focus. What I began will likely shape who I am in mighty ways; what I began will change me.
What I began is the Mario Kart Challenge.
Here at VU, we have a Wii for employees to take breaks on or blow off steam with. We also have a “Culture Coordinator” who is in charge of buying Wii’s and making work fun and being my mortal enemy when it comes to Mario Kart.
I didn’t choose my foe—the universe did. He is a gangly, sage-like lad, who very well may have some wizard blood in him. He’s worked here for awhile: you probably know this “Ian” character (though I highly doubt that is his real name). And perhaps it was the gleam in his eye as he made Waluigi rumble around a tight corner, perhaps it was his choosing of Waluigi itself, a known villainous character. Whatever it was, I know this: good seeks out evil and thwarts it. And I will do no different.
So day after day, the two of us will meet—four of us if you count Waluigi and Yoshi—to battle through a course (“maps” as my opponent irreverently calls them). We’ll keep track of the score, and at the end of the year the loser will face death.*
Last week, we opened this competition with two heart-thumping races. My contacts were like plates in the China Cabinet for not blinking. Our hands shook; our hearts cartwheeled in our chests. In the end, though, evil was vanquished on that fateful day, as I raced out to a 2 race to 0 lead. This week, “Ian” mysteriously left town, claiming “vacation,” but I suspect he is attending some sort of Mario Kart Training Camp or that he has surrendered and left town for good. Whatever the case, it feel good to have a two race lead out of the gate.
But I cannot get overconfident. I cannot cease my relentless pursuit of victory. I must dig deep and play to win and have heart and win at all costs and swing for the fences and never say die and shoot for the kill and keep the faith and go the extra mile and fight the good fight.
When all is said and done, I must race, today and each day after. I must race.
*By “death” I mean the loser will have to buy a meal for the winner, provide and present a trophy to the winner in an over-the-top trophy presentation, and dress like a Mario Kart character of the winner’s choice for an entire workday. Personally, I’d rather die** than face such steep consequences.
**By “die” I mean “quit” and claim foul-play, a thing which I will likely do if I am losing badly at any point in the competition.