This Happened. A Quick & Dirty Post About Donkey Racing.

The donkey racing t-shirt

I kicked off my 2018 race season tonight. With donkey racing.

If you’ve been following VRVE, you know that I had every intention of donkey racing tonight after witnessing the wonder of it a few weeks ago. You probably also know the reason I haven’t yet raced this season, despite normally logging lots of start and finish lines each year. Amid the chaos of my current life, I haven’t had much room for my competitive fire. Until tonight, that is.

Waiting for the donkey racing to start

Me and Jimmy? We were destined to partner up.

A friend asked me if my competitive side came out during tonight’s just-for-fun donkey race. Oh yeah. Let’s just say I scoped out the situation in advance. I strategized. I knew from watching a previous race that there was clear winner in each heat. My friend Emilio told me that in 2017, it was the grey donkey that always won. I scoured my photos from the last race and sure enough, a grey donkey was usually in the lead. I compared the color of his muzzle and the pattern on his ears with the donkeys in front of me, as they underwent “medical” inspection before the race. I knew which donkey was likely to win. Which donkey I needed to ride.

The doctor who inspects the donkey racing competitors

When it was my turn to head to the start line, I walked there with purpose. I was immediately assigned to Jimmy, no questions asked. The winning donkey was mine.

Jimmy could barely contain himself at the start. The race began because he would not stay put. He headed out, and the other donkeys and their riders had no choice but to follow. Jimmy and I pushed forward down that 200-or-so-meter stretch of road, intent on the win. It was within our grasp.

Heading into an early lead in Lumbarda's donkey racing

But just as sure as I was of Jimmy’s winning speed, I could sense his desire to rebel. He wasn’t a donkey made for a straight stretch of road. Not Jimmy. He was a donkey with a mind of his own. I respect that in a donkey. So I couldn’t argue when he veered off course, plowing through the crowd and finding what he considered a safe haven in the center of the town square. Jimmy and I were almost the winner's of last night's donkey racing—until he veered off course

We may have relinquished our number one position—our shot at the grand final and the winner’s platter of prosciutto—but that was A-OK with me. Jimmy was on the edge of breaking into the spotlight, and yet he veered away. Instead, he followed instinct and his big, brave donkey heart. And that’s all that mattered to me.

Thanks for the ride, my friend.

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