Fred Rayser underwent a So Slow TWIDDER. At least, the other runners in this account of a spacetime slip track competition did, while Rayser experienced a brief episode of Fast Forward. Note how the light changed while he was in the spacetime slip. (See the August 1983 issue of Fate magazine for the original report.)
V. Fred Rayser was a teenage trackster. He had set a number of records in the 880 which made it his favorite event. He also ran the 440 and, when track season ended, ran cross country.
Rayser had heard of distance runners going into a state of euphoria, but the 440 and the 880 are sprints that do not provide enough time to work up into any kind of altered state, except for one strange occasion during the summer track season in 1937 which was forever burned into his memory.
In Spring Valley, New York, Rayser was competing in the First Annual Valkyrie Track and Field Championships. The weather was good; bright and sunny but not too hot.
Upon checking in, Rayser discovered that the 880 was a handicap event, something he had never run before. In theory, the slower runners are given a head start so that, if the handicappers have figured correctly and right conditions prevail, all the runners will finish in a dead heat, photo finish.
Rayser writes that, “I got my handicap and was encouraged to see that I was given a 10 yard head start. I was encouraged until I took my starting position and discovered there was nobody behind me. I was the scratch man. Not only was everybody in front of me, but some were almost out of sight!
“There were about 15 runners in front of me, and one was almost opposite me on the far side of the track. He was running a lap and a half while I had to run two laps. If it hadn’t been for my cheering section,—my dad and brother—I would have walked off the track.”
Rayser’s strategy was to pass as many runners as he could on the straightaways, and managed to catch half the field. But as he was coming off the backstretch on the final lap, he could see seven runners still ahead of him. With only 100 yards to the finish line he knew he had to run wide around the “U” turn for half the distance in order to pass. He felt there was no hope of winning.
“Then it happened,” said Rayser. “As I started around the curve, the light appeared to change from bright sunshine to a muted glow. It was as if I had suddenly entered into a translucent tunnel. I was conscious only of the runners ahead of me. Their legs were churning and their arms flailing but they seemed to be moving in slow motion.
“Not only that, but they were scattered all over the track instead of being grouped at the pole as is normal. Never before, or since, have I seen runners so dispersed. I began to weave my way through them. Some of the runners were taking the turn so wide that I easily passed them on the inside instead of having to run around them.
“Then, as I came off the curve, the light changed again. I emerged from the ‘tunnel’ into the bright sunshine with nothing ahead of me but the tape less than 50 yards away. I hit the tape at full speed, and kept on going. I felt that I could run another lap or even two at the same pace. I gradually slowed down, however, and jogged the rest of the way around the track.
“My cheering section came out of the stands to pound me on the back and congratulate me on a record time. I was happy, but thought it best not to mention my strange experience. With all of us sprinting for the finish, I had passed seven runners in 50 yards around a curve—an ‘impossible’ accomplishment.
“I picked up the gold medal, but my mind was full of questions without answers. What was the change of light? Why were the other runners going slow motion but not me? Had I hallucinated? What gave me so much energy that I kept on running after I hit the finish line? Had I entered a time warp or another dimension? Almost half a century later, I still wonder what happened to me that day.”