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Climbing Shoes

The Climbing Shoes Competition

climbing-shoesThe bet was made one day on the way to the gym.  Whoever could complete the V4 grade wall—or whoever could do it the fastest if both Maggie and Jon managed to finish it (even though neither of them had ever done it before)—would win a pair of brand new climbing shoes at the other’s expense.

They both already owned their own climbing shoes, but both pairs were pretty worn.  Maggie and Jon had started dating six months ago after meeting at the gym, when they were both just learning to climb.

Now they went to the gym together at least four days a week. Jon would meet Maggie after work and they’d climb for an hour or two before going to one apartment or the other to make dinner.

They’d take turns showering, and would then prepare their meal together, talking about how sore they were, and laughing about about who got to the top first or had the better climbs.

The idea behind the climbing shoes contest came about because of their competitive natures, AND as a way to celebrate their six-month anniversary. They didn’t want to do anything big – you only did big things for one year and higher anniversaries – but this way they didn’t have to worry about getting or giving some cheesy gift.

And their competitive natures made them BOTH want to win.  They’d each told the other that they’d be okay with losing, but Jon began doing extra pushups and pull-ups in his apartment when he was alone, and Maggie secretly did squats and some other core exercises when Jon wasn’t there.

Today was the day they decided to go for it.  They drove to the gym together and put on their old climbing shoes.  Then they stood beside each other looking up at the wall.

The mid-afternoon rush had died down and there were only a couple of other climbers around. The entire gym smelled like feet. You get used to it after a while, Jon had told Maggie the first time they’d gone. By the third visit, she agreed.

They decided to do a few warm-up climbs on some easier V1 walls before attempting the hard V4 wall.  Just something to get the muscles moving, and to build up that sense of friendly competition. Soon though, Maggie pulled out a stopwatch.

“It’s time,” she said, letting the watch swing in front of her. “If you want to win those climbing shoes, you’d better hope you can beat me.”

Jon laughed and walked towards her. “Ladies first,” he said. He motioned towards the wall.

“Age before beauty,” Maggie said.

Jon laughed and said he was ready.  He took a deep breath and and set his feet at the start.

“Ready?” Maggie asked.

Jon nodded.


Jon worked hard, but ended up falling off of the wall before getting even halfway up. Maggie went next, and fell, too, almost at the exact same spot.  They both tried again, but neither was able to get even near the top of the V4 wall.

Covered in sweat, both of them tired and aching, they could only look at each other and shake their heads.   “I guess no one wins,” Jon finally said, breathing heavily.

Maggie shook her head. “Not true.”

Jon raised an eyebrow.

“I mean, sure, neither of us won,” Maggie began, “But doesn’t that make us both winners?  Just for trying?  Like when we were kids and we all got participation trophies.”

Jon laughed and moved towards her, kissing her sweaty lips, and said, “Sounds good to me!  Maybe next month we can try it again.”

Maggie wiped more sweat from her brow and said, “How about we get out of here and go have some ice cream?  I’m wiped!”

“Works for me, “ said Jon, “but next month you’ll still need to get me those new climbing shoes!”

Maggie looked Jon right in the eyes and said, “Yeah?  We’ll see.  We will definitely see.”

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