Robo-Runner – 3000

Robo-Runner – 3000

Drax355 pushed his pace a bit to pull up onto the shoulder of Kibel290.  His e-suit, a newer model with very good external sensor strength picked up the edge of Kibel’s e-field pushing out.  Kibel had made his usual move on that slight rising hill through the park.  He had pushed the pace for 800 meters and dropped everyone else.

Drax had not responded this time as he had in previous races.  His tactical algorithm coach told him to try something different today. To hold his pace on the rise and then use the following rolling downhills out of the park to reconnect with the leader.  It had worked.  So far.

Drax had never beaten Kibel in a race.  He had been close, but had never been able to close the deal.  The man was just a few seconds faster over the distance.  On the good days, like today, when he felt healthy, relaxed and optimal he could stay close.

The e-suit told Drax he was right where he wanted to be.  His avatar was mostly green easing into yellows in places as the race effort took its toll.

E-suit technology didn’t unlevel the playing field as much as people originally thought it would.  The first users won a decided advantage but now there was parity as all competitors wore them. The key turning point was when the GLATF governing body was able to take ownership of all in-race data.  Now that everyone had the e-suits, the smart clothes, and the GLATF had the data, no one could cheat.

The real-time respiration and sampling automatically picked up any PEDs or augmentation protocols.  They were finally able to clean up endurance sports without an army of urine sampling minions.  Cycling was the first to fall in line and then the results cascaded to all the other sports.

With the ability to cheat removed, classical sports had a renaissance. Even these days with most of the human existence being virtualized there was still a draw to the physical.  We had learned to live an augmented life, side by side with the technologies, but we still dragged around this meat, bred in the savannah of our DNA.

Some crazy Luddites still ran these races ‘au naturel’.  Mostly the cranky old-timers who had always scoffed at the suits.  The governing body put up with them as long as they signed a waiver that if they croaked it was their own fault and they would not be eligible for prizes or the official results.

Targeted, multiband scans played over Kibel’s lithe and athletic form as he pushed around a tight corner and up a slight incline.  Drax’s suit processed the returning data and did its best to algorithmically sort out the false positive signals and interference.

Drax355 did his best to scan the incoming feed on his heads-up race visor.  He could see that familiar tight, efficient form ahead of him as usual, haloed in a multi-colored, multidimensional mesh of data readings.  Kibel was running well, in the lead, as usual.

Drax was breathing hard now.  He switched the telemetry of Kibel’s display to his own suit monitoring system for a status check.  With all his training he already knew what it would tell him; he was redlining on his maxVO2 and starting to go into lactic debt. He didn’t need the suit to tell him that.  His hammering heart and ragged breath made the case.  But, he checked anyhow to confirm.

Sure enough the bounding silhouette of his racing avatar was highlighted and several aerobic systems were started to turn yellow and spread.  No induvial muscle was flaring red and his core temperature was within bounds, nothing acute to make him back off or adjust his stride, just a slow ride into the hell of anaerobic debt.

His suit algorithms recommended a 2-cm extension of his stride on the approaching downhill and told him to straighten up his form.  As he tried he fell out of optimal for brief second and Kibel pulled a few steps ahead.

Drax’s new suit quickly sensed the change in the airflow as he fell off Kibel’s shoulder.  It extended and reconfigured the lateral microfins built into the fabric to take advantage of a hot side breeze coming off the track surface.   The smart-louver system sensed and managed the turbulence.

They were also configured to divert cooling air to mitigate core temperature increases or decreases.  For these races, under the life-dome, there was seldom need for that with the constant temperatures of the maintained atmosphere.  Drax was thankful not to need them and their corresponding tradeoff in airflow optimization.

Occasionally the engineers would tweak the environment in a micro-dome for fun when they put on one of those mud and obstacle ‘Tough-Meat’ races.  Then the suit’s core temperature control features would come in handy.  There was only so much it could do with the available passive body heat variables but it could make the difference, especially in those crazy ‘Escape the Dome’ ultra-race series where they went out into the uncontrolled zones.

The slight adjustments to the suit’s surface made Drax more slippery and allowed him to close the gap again.  His anaerobic displayed eased from yellows into more menacing amber hues.  With ¾ of a kilometer left in the race he could risk it to retain contact.

This was not some run-of-the-mill med garment tracking a sick kid for the Global Health Institute.  This was the latest Cabbrera 3000, custom fitted for elite athletes to eke out every last bit of performance, within natural boundaries, of course.

His new suit was within the GLATF parity boundaries.  There had been some early disqualification problems when the technology was new where unauthorized plugins allowed unsportsmanlike hacking of others’ suits.  This, theoretically, couldn’t happen now that all data was real time copied to the cloud for the GLATF algorithmic monitoring.

Connectivity was built into the fabric of the living space.

Drax was very happy with how things were playing out.  He had never hung on to Kibel for this long before in the weekly race series.  Maybe that new training rig was paying off.  A quick glance called up the predictive analytics and if nothing went wrong in this last bit he was on track to set a 2-minute PR.

His suit avatar glowed reddish in his calves and thighs.  Things were starting to fail.  He was feeling the cumulative effect of anaerobic debt.  His nutrition was good.  The glycogen and oxygen exchange rates were tracking well but the muscles couldn’t get rid of the waste byproducts fast enough.

He allowed his suit to reconfigure the microfins into small fingers to poke at the tight red spots on his calves. To get a slight massage into the tissue of the muscles.  To break up and push out some of the crap that was building up.

The avatar displayed back to Drax was a sea of red and amber warnings.  He was getting close to the GLATF safety parameters.  But he was close.  So close to Kibel.  Maybe today was his day.  He wasn’t going to let up.  He was going to give the race everything he had.

The finish was near.  Around a couple bends and onto a short runway through the chute.  His legs were starting to feel a creeping deadness as the muscles were overwhelmed by the effort.  His heads-up display blurred at the edges as race tunnel vision closed in on his awareness.

Still he hung on to Kibel.

Kibel wouldn’t have to turn his head.  He didn’t need to glance over his shoulder to see Drax, still there, apparently running strong, still in his wind shadow.  What would the champion do?  When would he make his move?  Could Drax hang on?

Drax’s algorithms looked for similar race profiles in Kibel’s history.  Kibel wasn’t a sprinter.  He was a rabbit.  He usually had enough of a gap to maintain his lead coming into the finish – the summary said.  Historic profile projections said he’d run steady state from here on in, but history didn’t know what Kibel was thinking, what he was capable of today.

The bouncing form of Kibel danced into Drax’s blurring vision on the analytics display.  Telemetry was scanning his gait to see if anything had changed to see if maybe Kibel’s form revealed something.  Kibel seemed to be running strong.  To be sure his gait was a bit more mechanical and a bit less fluid due to race fatigue but nothing out of the ordinary.

Then Drax thought he saw Kibel stumble, ever so slightly breaking his form and catching himself.  Drax reviewed the telemetry sequence and sure enough there was the red spike with the yellow highlight.  What did it mean?  Did it mean anything?  Kibel stretched the separation, but Drax held on.

Drax was hurting but he was all in.  He was pushing his dead legs with everything he had.  Willing the knees high, the forefoot plant and toe-off, pumping his arms high and ferociously to gain the ground and move the spirit.

He had to suppress the GLNHI official health and stress warnings that now cascaded over the red of his display and he muted the audio alarms.  Screw them.  This was his meat and he was pushing as hard as he could.  He was riding this thing to the finish line.

Something told him to call an algorithm that ran a regression analysis on Kibel’s momentary stumble.  The pop-up result tag listed an 87% probability of a slight calf strain and 63% chance of a hamstring tweak in Kibel’s left leg.  Drax saw the finish turn approaching and decided to gamble.

As red lights flashing a blurred slurry of useless warnings he dug even deeper and pulled up on Kibel’s outside shoulder as they turned into the finish runway.  This forced the champion to shift, to cut the corner tightly.  The tight corner shifted the weight of his stride laterally onto that left side and his stride became jerky and unnatural in the corner.

Drax bolted by and dropped into the champion’s lane, charging like a lightning stuck wild beast towards the finish line a scant few meters away.  His form was shot.  His legs and arms waved crazily searching for some rhythm to drive his body forward.

Kibel290 recovered his stride on the straightway and tried to close, but Drax had the jump.

Drax355 pinwheeled in an uncontrolled mass through the finish and collapsed heaving on the smart grass.  Nanomesh connectors took over from his e-suit and tried what they could to mitigate any permanent damage.

Drax lay in a state of blissful exhaustion and let the GLNHI admonitions stream by muted and unheeded.



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