The Ride From Hell

Rachel Katz


Between May 3rd and 6th, I found myself at Brock University with 20 other NT students at the 44th annual Ontario Students Classics Conference. Over the course of the three days of competitions, over 400 students from across the province participated in a
variety events, from oral reading to an archaeological dig to a hilarious boat
race. The whole conference was filled with its fair share of exciting moments,
but for many, the penult was Saturday afternoon, at the chariot race.

For those of you unfamiliar with chariot racing at the OSCC, it works like a relay. Each school participating enters a chariot, complete with four “horses” (runners who pull the chariot) and, of course a charioteer. The horses pull the chariot two at a time around Brock Circle. To prevent any Ben-Hur-esque catastrophes, the races are done as solo

Due to a rather last-minute turn of events, I wound up being the charioteer for North Toronto’s chariot. It was my final event of the conference and while I was certainly a little worried about being pulled around an asphalt track by four of my fellow conference attendees, the butterflies in my stomach didn’t really start beating their wings until about
an hour before the race was scheduled. It didn’t help that two of my friends
continuously made jokes about how I was going to fly out of the chariot and
“soar above the trees.”

At 2pm, I nervously walked towards Brock Circle, bike helmet in hand, scanning the chariot line-up for NT’s. It was second last. “Fantastic,” I thought. “Now I’ll get to watch the others and get even more scared.” The other chariots completed their circuits and before I knew it, I was strapping on my helmet and hastily fastening a pair of borrowed

The timer counted down. “Three! Two! ONE!” And we were off, thundering and wobbling away from the starting line. I held on tight to the handles on the chariots floor and shut my eyes. The first two runners made it to the pass-off point with relative ease, and the chariot exchange itself went smoothly enough. Soon after the second two runners had set off though, there was a tremendous jolt and suddenly I was actually airborne. Well,
almost. According to someone who watched the race, the chariot was on one
wheel. After a few terrifying seconds that seemed to last for an eternity, the
second wheel hit the pavement again. This was not quite the end of my little
misadventure though, because as the chariot landed again, my legs slipped and
one of my feet was no longer resting on the chariot floor. In fact, it was
dragging along the ground and I almost fell out of the chariot altogether.
After the shock of this set in, I did my best to bring my foot back in and
attempt to survive the rest of the race.

Once the chariot crossed the finish line and was well out of the way, I stumbled out, hyperventilating and slightly lightheaded. I could not believe I had actually survived the entire race. The rest of the races went on without as many bumps and bruises along the way. And while we did not place in the event at the awards ceremony, the North Toronto conference team certainly shared a laugh or two that night in the common room.