Abrahams, Harold

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abrahams, Harold (Maurice):(1899-1978) English athlete. In 1924 he became the first Englishman to win the 100 meter race in the Olympic games. His story was retold in the movie, Chariots of Fire.

I was traveling in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, when I went out with two friends and saw the movie, Chariots of Fire. Although it was a bit maudlin for my taste, I was still captured by the story and moved by the message–so much so that when I arrived back in my motel room, I slipped on a pair of sandals, and even though it was nearly midnight I went down to the beach by myself, determined to duplicate the running along by the sea I had just witnessed in the flick.

It was a beautiful night–one which the Chamber of Commerce would love to have bottled and sold at orange juice stands as evidence of the beauty of the community. There was a fine mist in the air from the waves hitting the shore, and I was tingling all over with the anticipation of duplicating the emotion of the movie.

I looked off in the distance and set a marker in my mind of where I wanted to end up at the conclusion of my sprint. I was Abrahams. I was the great English racer. Even though I had quite a few more pounds than he did, in that moment, they were shed from my mind by the sheer awesome wonder of being transformed into the realm of Olympic training.

I started to run.

I got about four paces when my sandal stuck in the wet sand. I tripped and fell on my face, burying my nose deep within the beach. Determined, I got up and tried it again. I repeated the same process with great proficiency.

I do not know whether the terrain on Jacksonville Beach is so much different from England, or if it was perhaps because I was not quite as light of feet as Abrahams–but I just I sank deeper into the dampness. Or perhaps running on sand is just the stupidest thing that anybody ever came up with on earth.

But try as I might, I was only able to run about twenty feet before my heart was racing much quicker than my legs. I fell down, exhausted, and stared at the ocean.

I stayed there for a long time–because my legs ached, my knees were sore and my nose was full of algae. Gradually I worked my way to my feet and walked back to my motel room. In the process of that brief stroll, I recreated my story. Upon arriving, I told my traveling companions that I had duplicated the scene from the movie–and had run at least one mile down the beach and back.

Their eyes gleamed with admiration.

I went to sleep that night a liar. But I felt very little shame. After all, Hollywood and movies are just fairy tales. And fairy tales can come true.

It can happen to you.

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