Bringing the Text to Life
No matter what our own athletic experience or prowess may be, we can identify with that moment of profound expectation and tension as competitors wait for the beginning of a race.
In a foot race the starter's first command is not "go," but "on your mark." This tells all runners to find their designated place on the track and stand by it. From the days of the ancient games of Greece, this "mark" has traditionally been a unique design, each identifying a particular athlete. Anyone who knew all the competitors' marks could tell the starting line-up at a glance.
In long-distance races with "staggered" starts, finding the right mark and its corresponding lane is crucial. The marks ensure that all the competitors will run the same distance, despite the apparent advantage to those placed high on the outside turn. There are also marks along the course of the race, telling runners when or if they may "cut in" and claim the first lane. On a straight-line start, the winners are often those...