A proving ground

Originally published in the 1972 pamphlet titled "A Proving Ground"

Mark was running third in a cross-country race. He was about 150 yards behind the leader, but it seemed to him like a lot more. He was tiring. The pace was fast and his side was starting to ache. He was tempted to slow down, perhaps even drop out of the race.

Just then, the boy he had been matching strides with started to pull away. Mark battled to keep up. Suddenly he found himself sprinting effortlessly, almost floating over the course. Not only did he keep ahead of his closest pursuer; he went on to overtake the leader and win handily.

What was it that propelled this near-dropout to the finish line?

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