Thereís a foursome of long runners on the track: Each one thinks he is the fittest of the pack, Each one thinks he is the strongest of them all, Each one wants to climb the highest pedestal. Someoneís blood is hot, and someoneís blood is cold; Everybodyís heard the same inspiring talk, Everybodyís had the same amount of pies, And today the referee wonít call a tie. Competition, by the way, Almost equal, I should say. Any news you can provide? Itíd be easier. TV crews have just arrived - all mass-media! There is nothing to report - all are capable, But the passion in this sport is so palpable! Number One is showing off his speed and will, He rolls forward quickly, as if down the hill. He is haloed like a victor in his prime, He is coming to the cauldron just in time. Why did he have no ambitions on his mind? Well, he didnít eat his porridge as a child. He was starving in his childhood, life was grim. After school was finished, he would hit the gym. These ideas have appeal: Early birds deserve the meal. And the latter - no surprise - yearn for better things; Thereís a consolation prize: bones and chitterlings. Number Two is far from pleasure in excess, He is of the fed ones; he is of the best. He has hopes for triumph, glory, and success, And his feet are flying higher than the rest. Look, he leans into the curve - heíll touch the floor! He has shown a lot of nerve, but he leans more! Heís a thinker, a tactician, heís a pro! Heís a runner on a mission - way to go! He is focused, sharp, and tense, He is always on defense, This oneís going to attend the Olimpico1. He will be the kidsí best friend in the videos, He will match Peléís - O Rei! - personality, Heís prepared to lead the way with tenacity! Number Three - a grizzled head that wonít be swerved, He is always the reliable reserve. Someone must have been too giddy from the cold, Or perhaps the coach took pity on his soul. Like a string, the voices torment: must advance! This is your defining moment, your last chance! Heís excited by this honor, like a boy. He must spurt or heís a goner, heís destroyed. He goes further back and far, to the dated railroad car, Where the former names can fight their ischemia, Where all seats have the same price: sleeping area. Number Four, another runner on the side, He just runs like that, for nothing, for his pride. First, he chases you and tramples on your heels, Then he lags behind, as if "go forward, please". He did not harass for nothing: he is pissed. Look at him: heís passing, passing... he has passed. Number One will not get near the pot of wealth, And the second one wonít wear a laurel wreath, And the third one have to crawl to the back tracks by default... Modern running is refined: theoretically! One slows down before the line - Unexpectedly! He takes off his running tank - acts deplorably! His sports conduct, to be frank, is disorderly! Thereís a foursome of long runners on the track: Good and evil, mission-driven and laid-back. Who is running for what reason? Whatís the point? Shoulder blades are separated from the joints. The four runners sprint no more, instead they fly, And today the referee wonít call a tie.
1 Vysotsky sings about Thessaloniki (pronounced differently in Russian) - a Greek city that was to host the 11th European Athletics Championships in 1974. Due to the unstable situation in Greece, these championships were held in Italy, at Romeís Stadio Olimpico.
 
© Kirill Tolmachev. Translation, 2024