RetRollSpective – Savage Speeders

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where we reflect on the history of marble sports teams that have appeared in the tournaments of Jelle’s Marble Runs. This time, we’re going to speed over to the Savage Speeders, a team that is statistically the best and most consistent team that has ever competed in the Marble League and is the team and racer champion of the first season of Marbula One. Read on to find out how this team conquers the competition!

The official logo for the Savage Speeders, designed by Tim Ritz.

The Savage Speeders hail from Accellaise, Pace, and Vellis, three cities in a region of the world known for their cultural, artistic, and economical significance. Speedy and Rapidly are siblings and hail from Accellaise on the coast of the continent, Velocity hails from Pace, a nearby coastal city, and Swifty and Whizzy are friends from the major city of Vellis. The five marbles met ten years ago, during the Tour de Vellis, a marble sports marathon held in the city and throughout the region. Speedy and Rapidly had already been competing in local tournaments in Accellaise, so when Velocity brought up the idea of forming a team, there was no hesitation.

The Speeders trained vigorously over the next two years to qualify for the marathon, fighting to make ends meet when it came to scheduling and traveling. Nonetheless, the team was able to qualify for the tournament and made headlines with a fifth-place finish after the tournament. For a rookie team, it was unheard of.

“We disclose as little as we possibly can about our training,” Speedy assured. “It is one of our most important secrets to our continued success in marble competition. What I will tell you is that we work the hardest out of any team. We do not settle for anything less than what we know ourselves to be: the best.”

The Speeders continued to compete in the next three Tours, never finishing below the top five. In the 2014 Tour, they clinched their first win, and in 2015, repeated it. News headlines throughout the world began comparing the team to the unstoppable force of early berserkers, referring to them as “savage”. The Speeders reacted positively to this, adding it to their team name to become the Savage Speeders.

While celebrating their back-to-back victory, the Savage Speeders were approached by marble sports aficionado, Greg Woods. Woods had been headlining the Fruit Circuit for years, but the Circuit was losing viewership and funding—and fast.

“I had a few contacts from different regions, specifically Jelle Bakker in the city of Knikkegen, who wanted to start an international marble tournament called the Marble League,” explained Woods. “It was already going to include a few teams from my Fruit Circuit, but I needed to recruit other teams myself. The Savage Speeders were a long shot, but I knew that if I could convince them to compete, the Marble League might be successful.”

The next day, the Savage Speeders announced that they were retiring from the Tour de Vellis to the disappointment and confusion of many fans. Their confusion grew a few days later when it was reported that the team had purchased a stadium in Accellaise and renamed it “Le Course de Sauvage.” 

“None of this made sense,” a fan recalled. “They were so successful in the Tour, and then they left without explanation. I figured there had to be something more on the horizon. Something bigger.”

Soon enough the team’s fans caught wind that the Savage Speeders in Knikkegen and a small pack of diehards yelled as the main team of four rolled into the Bakker Bowl. Because of their more inconsistent performance, Whizzy sat out of the main team but was on the front row in the stands, keeping the fan section synchronized.

In retrospect, it’s easy to forget the Speeders had many average performances throughout the 2016 Marble League, sinking as low as second-to-last in the Team Pursuit. It’s much more memorable that they were the only team to win four golds, and the only team whose medals were all golds. The team set a nascent Marble League record in the Relay; Velocity flew down the Water Race’s waterfall to take gold there; and Rapidly was lengths ahead of everyone else to win the 10 Meter Sprint.

Then there is the final gold medal. The Speeders were two points behind the Thunderbolts into the final event, the Hurdles. Apart from a mediocre Long Jump performance, it was the first time team captain Speedy started on their own. “It’s a captain’s duty to clutch the final event for the team,” said Speedy at the time.

“People forget about us back in 2016, but I believed 100 percent we could still win it,” recalled O’rangers captain Kinnowin. “With that Hurdles event, I even led Speedy for a while. But they sped up so quickly on the last two hurdles that I was simply left in the dust.”

Beating the O’rangers in their heat, Speedy started in the final along with the Thunderbolts, Mellow Yellow, and Team Momo – every team in the top four of the standings. The pistol fired, and Yellup of Mellow Yellow had a brilliant start. But out of the last hurdle, all the audience could see was a blur of three marbles side by side.

“Oh, actually it’s gonna be a very close finish!” exclaimed Greg Woods. “What is timing and scoring gonna give us?… And it’s going to be Speedy from the Savage Speeders!”

The photo finish that secured the 2016 Marble League in the Savage Speeders’ name.

In an interview given after the final event, Speedy explained, “We were really conserving our energy. We knew going into the Hurdles that we needed to win the event to win it all, and when the gate lifted, I rushed down the track to the finish line. I had to. It didn’t matter if I was exhausted. It was all worth it to prove that we were on the top.”

The team’s victory tour was jubilant, as they traveled around the world with their four gold medals and all five members of the team. When the Savage Speeders returned to Vellis for the final part of their tour, the city hosted a day-long parade through the city on the same course used for the Tour. At the end of the day, the team was gifted an honorary key to the city, which inspired their hashtag, #SpeedIsKey.

Over the next six months, the public heard nothing from the Savage Speeders, a practice that would become the standard for the team in the offseason. The team’s stadium was closed to the public and protected by security. In future years, it became a yearly tradition on MarBook to post joke events to raid the stadium in the hopes of finding the team’s deepest and darkest secrets. None of the events occurred, although one year, a streaker rolled by the stadium the night before and was apprehended by security.

The Savage Speeders automatically qualified for the 2017 Marble League, along with Mellow Yellow, the Thunderbolts, and Team Momo. The team appeared in the opening ceremony with Whizzy back on the team in place of Velocity, the latter switching out with them so Whizzy could compete. Whizzy competed in Funnel Spinning and placed fourth, earning twelve points and starting the season off on a good note. Rapidly followed next and placed sixth in the Long Jump, and the team placed eleventh in Fidget Spinner Collision. At the end of the first quarter of the season, the team sat in eleventh place, which, admittedly, did not look promising.

Speedy began to cement their legacy as the “Speed Freak” during 2017, proving 2016 was not a fluke.

The team, however, was just warming up. The Savage Speeders vaulted into third place in the standings following Speedy’s silver medal in the 5 Meter Sprint, trailing only Mellow Yellow and the Chocolatiers who were eight points ahead. Swifty earned another silver medal in the Hurdles, which allowed the team to rise to the top of the standings. The Speeders’ gold medal in the Relay Race cemented their position in the first place, twenty-two points clear of the Limers and even further ahead of the rest of the competition.

They held on in Block Pushing, missing the podium but placing fifth, maintaining their twenty-two-point lead, this time ahead of the Pinkies. They placed fifth again in the High Jump, but their lead shrunk by four points. It became apparent that other teams were beginning to rise in the standings, such as the O’rangers and Team Momo, which had both medaled in the previous few events. The Savage Speeders responded with a gold medal in the Steeplechase, but even then, Mellow Yellow joined them on the podium. It was then that the Savage Speeders began to slow down—too soon.

The team placed in the lower middle of the pack in the final three events, unable to reach the top half. The O’rangers did exactly the opposite: earning eight points in Archery and two silver medals thanks to Kinnowin in the Underwater Race and Clementin in the Sand Rally.

“We weren’t worried until Kinnowin set the Marble League record in the Underwater Race,” Swifty retorted. “We thought we had done enough. Until all of a sudden, I didn’t make the Sand Rally final.”

After holding first place for seven consecutive events, the Savage Speeders lost their lead and finished in second place overall in the 2017 Marble League. It was a historic upset that has gone down in history as one of the greatest comebacks in marble sports.

A disappointing end to a season they had come so close to taking back.

The team, having automatically qualified for the 2018 Marble League, disappeared shortly after the conclusion of the 2017 season to the tune of “OOOOOOOOOOO” echoing throughout the stadium. The Savage Speeders made their next public appearance in the 2018 Winter Marble League Friendly Round, an exhibition tournament starring the prequalified teams of the main tournament. This, of course, meant that the team would be competing against Mellow Yellow and the O’rangers again, as well as the Snowballs for the first time since 2016. Swifty finished in third during the 5 Meter Ice Dash and the team finished in third for both Curling and the Halfpipe. They ironically finished fourth overall after the Friendly Round, despite their consistent third-place finishes. Needless to say, the Speeders were not happy.

Swifty opened the 2018 Marble League by placing…you guessed it, third in the 5 Meter Ice Dash. Of course, this time, it mattered, with the team earning fifteen points towards what they hoped would be their second championship. However, Speedy faltered in the Ski Jump, placing dead last in the event and plunging the team to ninth in the overall standings. Speedy was taken out of the roster for the next event, Halfpipe, and replaced by Velocity, who was now the team’s reserve member. The Savage Speeders earned a silver medal.

The start of another comeback?

After a disappointing performance in the Bobsled event, where the Savage Speeders placed below Team Momo, which had suffered two injuries, Rapidly brought the team back into contention with their silver medal in Speed Skating, which tied the Marble League record until Misty’s performance set a new record and earned gold for the Hazers.

At this point, the Savage Speeders could not be ignored. They had medaled in three of the first five events and were reaching closer and closer to the top of the standings, which the Oceanics, Balls of Chaos, and Hazers were trading off. The team finally reached the top of the standings with another silver medal in the Snow Rally, this time earned by Whizzy. They were tied with Momo in “snow points”, but lost to them in average times. The results of the Snow Rally, despite putting the Savage Speeders in the lead, are what many fans consider to be the reason that the Savage Speeders lost the 2018 season.

The team held on to the top of the standings until Curling when the Oceanics’ gold put them ahead. The Speeders fell to third, six points away from first place, and remained there following the Biathlon. The Ice Hockey event saw all of the team members competing, and for the first time since the Halfpipe, the Savage Speeders made the podium in a team event. They scored just one point against Team Galactic in the third-place match and fended off the team with their strong defensive strategy. Their bronze medal put them just two points behind the Oceanics in the first place.

Foreshadowing.

It was anyone’s game going into the final event, the Sand Mogul Race. An unprecedented ten teams could mathematically win the 2018 Winter Marble League, but the Savage Speeders kept their eyes forward.

“We medaled in most events. There was no reason why we couldn’t medal in one more, and finish the season stronger than ever before,” Whizzy cleared their throat. “That is until the Midnight Wisps passed us in the final seconds of the semi-finals.”

“Semifinal B. Midnight Wisps, the Hazers, Savage Speeders, and the Snowballs. Down they go. Savage Speeders out to an early lead. Midnight Wisps up into second, they fend off a challenge. Can they get up there? Midnight Wisps take the win and they will advance. They could’ve stayed there; they didn’t have to make that last-second lunge to get up into first place, you will still advance into the finals since it’s the top two…” commentated Greg Woods.

The Savage Speeders glanced over at the standings. The Midnight Wisps, just four points behind them, would win the 2018 Winter Marble League if they won the event…by just one point.

And they did—pulling off another extraordinary comeback against the Savage Speeders to take their championship, as was the will of the wisps.

Another disappointing end to such a promising season for the Speeders.

The Savage Speeders made two public appearances during the 2018 offseason for both practice events. Whizzy placed sixth in the 100 Meter Water Race, above most of the Speeders’ rivals. The team advanced to the semifinals of the Amazing Maze Marble Race with their strong second-place standing, shutting out the Midnight Wisps. They advanced to the finals and finished in third, just three points ahead of the Limers in fourth and decisively behind the O’rangers and Raspberry Racers in the lead.

Their next public appearance was in the 2019 Marble League Friendly Round, as the Savage Speeders had automatically qualified for what would be their fourth Marble League appearance. The team finished in fourth out of the four competing teams with nine points, behind the Midnight Wisps with fourteen points, and the O’rangers and Oceanics with more.

The Savage Speeders acquired Quickly as their coach on 25 February 2019 and appeared with them during the opening ceremony on 19 April 2019. They started the 2019 Marble League as well as they possibly could have, in a comeback that proved to fans to “never count out” the Savage Speeders. In the Underwater Race, Rapidly earned the team’s first gold medal since the Steeplechase in 2017, and in Funnel Spinning, Speedy earned a back-to-back gold medal.

“When I came on to the team, they were so pent-up about losing the past two seasons. They blamed other teams, not themselves,” Quickly revealed. “Their negative energy was toxic. What I told them to do—to transmute that energy into a positive performance—set them up for a strong 2019 season.”

The best start to a Marble League by any team at the time.

The Savage Speeders led the standings during the first four events, leading fans to wonder if they would ever give. They finally did in the fifth event, the 5 Meter Sprint, when Whizzy finished dead last and the Hazers, who earned a silver medal, rose to first overall. The Savage Speeders hoped that they would be able to recoup in the next event, the Relay Run, but they finished last in their heat as the Thunderbolts and O’rangers moved on. The teams both made it to the final, and the O’rangers earned a silver medal, their first of the season.

The team was not doing its best at the midpoint of the season; it had dropped to seventh place at the end of the Biathlon and stayed there after the Hurdles, with the Midnight Wisps closing in seven points behind. The team needed at least a podium finish to get back into the top five and catch up to newer teams such as the Raspberry Racers, Hazers, and Green Ducks, who seemed to be running away with the season. The Savage Speeders returned to the podium in the Maze event with a bronze medal, and rose to fourth place, tied with Mellow Yellow in points but ahead of them in medal count.

The next event, the Dirt Race, arguably set the tone for the rest of the season. The course was unpredictable with sticks, leaves, and shallow, winding paths making it a course fit for a champion. Swifty competed first in Heat B, qualifying for the final race behind Pinky Toe and Indie. During the first third of the final, Swifty almost crashed out of the course, rolling on the outside of a stick and back onto the track. With a burst of speed, they rolled ahead of Ducky in the third quarter of the race, the finish line nearly in sight…

Out of nowhere, Pinky Toe zoomed down the course, ending up just behind Swifty. They tried and failed to block Pinky Toe, who won the Pinkies’ first-ever gold medal in a historic comeback. Swifty, stunned, didn’t even notice Ducky pass them for a silver medal, and could not get going in time to beat Rozzy for the bronze medal in the last five milliseconds. The top three of the 2019 Marble League became clear, separated by twenty points from the team in fourth place, none other than the Savage Speeders.

A turning point for the season that changed the history of the Marble League forever.

The Savage Speeders showed no signs of rebounding until Surfing when it was already too late for the team to be able to win the 2019 Marble League. The team could still finish in the top three with good results in the final two events; they instead fell apart in the penultimate event, Collision, placing dead last and allowing Mellow Yellow to pass them in the overall standings with a bronze medal.

“I was disappointed,” Quickly recalled. “I had every right to be. They started the season off the best a team has ever started a season, and they let it go. I may seem like I’m easy on them because I’m telling them to stop being so negative, but I do expect a lot.”

“They’re right,” Rango, the coach of the O’rangers, agreed. “The difference between the Savage Speeders and every other Marble League victor is that the Savage Speeders put so much pressure on themselves. They don’t work to be the best they can be. They work to be better than everyone else.”

“You should help me coach them,” Quickly suggested.

“No, I don’t think I will.”

Rapidly, who started the season strong, finished relatively strong in the Sand Rally in fifth place, earning eleven points. Rapidly finished just behind the O’rangers in fourth, who earned twelve points to finish their 2019 season with one-hundred and thirty-nine points, a familiar number to the Savage Speeders.

“Don’t,” Rapidly stopped me. “Please don’t mention that number to me…to any of us…ever again.”

The Savage Speeders finished the 2019 Marble League in fifth place, three points behind Mellow Yellow in fourth, which had finally finished ahead of their rivals at the end of a season. It was the team’s lowest finish, placement-wise, in their history, and the first time in the history of the Marble League that the Savage Speeders neither finished in the top three nor automatically qualified for the next season.

After an admittedly disappointing fourth season, the Savage Speeders were pleased to receive an official letter from the JMRC, inviting the team to compete in the first season of Marbula One. The Savage Speeders accepted and were confirmed as the first team on 20 October 2019. On the same day, they announced that Speedy, the “Speed Freak”, and Rapidly, the “Maroon Missile”, would represent the team in the upcoming tournament.

“Speedy, as the team captain, was a no-brainer. Rapidly is one of the more celebrated athletes on the team, and they’re a good foil to Speedy—they have decisive control over their capabilities. Together, Speedy and Rapidly were the two athletes I considered to be best suited for this tournament,” Quickly confirmed in an interview.

The rest of the Savage Speeders did not sit idle, however. The JMRC had also selected the team as the hosts of the first Grand Prix. Swiftly, Whizzy and Velocity got to work preparing Le Course de Sauvage for Marbula One, building the course themselves. They named the course the Savage Speedway and renamed their entire stadium in Accellaise the same name to clear up any confusion.

The track map for the Savage Speedway, designed by Minos Fylaktos and Spex.

Speedy made their debut as a Marbula One racer in the Savage Speedway Grand Prix Qualifiers on 15 February 2020, where they set a time of 31.20 seconds to beat. Unfortunately for them, every racer beat their time, and Speedy entered the first Grand Prix with a starting position of dead last—on their home circuit. However, Speedy was not ready to give up. By the third lap of the race, they had moved up thirteen places from their starting position to third, and they finished the race in fifth place, earning ten points and an extra point for setting the fastest lap.

Rapidly made their debut as a Marbula One racer at the O’raceway Grand Prix Qualifiers on 22 February 2020, where they set a lap time of 31.89 seconds and placed sixth on the starting grid. During the Grand Prix, Rapidly entered the top five during the sand portion of the track and remained there for much of the race, only exiting when bumping Wospy forward to clear their yellow flag. After returning to the top five in lap five, Rapidly closed in on Billy in the lead, but was ultimately unable to catch them, and finished in second place.

Rapidly’s silver medal at the O’raceway.

The Savage Speeders, living up to their name, continued to be a formidable force throughout the season. Speedy qualified for the race at the Momotorway in seventh and finished the third Grand Prix in sixth. Rapidly qualified for the race at the Hivedrive in seventh and earned their second silver medal at the end of the fourth Grand Prix, not even a second behind Pulsar in first. Rapidly lead the Racer Championship halfway through the season, and the Savage Speeders as a team sat in third overall.

Rapidly, tired from the previous Grand Prix, did not do well in either the Qualifiers or the Race at Greenstone, qualifying in eleventh and finishing the Race in fifteenth. Coach Quickly put Speedy in for the Short Circuit GP, a decision that put the team into the lead overall at the end of the Race. Speedy qualified in second with a time of 17.85 seconds and finished the sixth Grand Prix in third, taking the lead for four laps of the race. The team rose to the top of the standings with seventy points but fell in the individual standings, with Rapidly’s blunder at Greenstone dragging their points down.

Rapidly redeemed themselves in their last Grand Prix at the Razzway, qualifying in the third and finishing seventh, keeping the team fourteen points within the championship in second overall. Would Speedy be able to deliver in the final Grand Prix of the first season of Marbula One?

Speedy, the winner of the first Marbula One Racer Championship, earns their trophy and champagne bottle.

The final Grand Prix felt eerily similar to the final event of the 2016 Marble League. It was the feeling that the team in the lead—the Thunderbolts then, the Hazers now—was going to be overturned. It was the feeling that the championship was something truly special because it was the first in a series of many Marble League and Marbula One tournaments. It was the feeling that there was something to prove. It was the feeling that Speedy would dominate, and prove once again to the world to never count out the Savage Speeders.

Speedy captured pole in the Qualifiers at the Midnight Bay with a time of 24.54 seconds, putting them in the prime position to rush away from the competition once the starting gate fell in the Race. They did exactly that the next night, only losing the lead once to Prim, and regaining that lead two laps later. Speedy never looked back.

The Savage Speeders won the first season of Marbula One with Speedy earning 59 points and Rapidly earning 42 points, placing first and sixth respectively in the Racer Championship. They won the team championship with a seven-point lead above the Hazers and a 42 point lead above the O’rangers, who stood to their left on the podium.

The Edge of Glory

an addendum by Fouc

The stars glimmered above the Andromedome, and the Savage Speeders were competing in their team’s first-ever Marble League Qualifiers. Hounded by the press to comment on the chances of the Speeders not qualifying, other coaches declined to comment or were measured in their praise.

“Take it from me: Never count out the Savage Speeders,” said Coach Rango of the O’rangers. “The few words I got out of Coach Quickly last week suggest they’re as strong as ever.”

The feeling inside the Speeders’ locker room was different. Half an hour before they were to appear on the balancing beam, Coach Quickly and team captain Speedy were locked in a heated argument over who should compete in what event. Speedy had a difficult time accepting a teammate, Swifty, showing up for the final qualifier event, the 5 Meter Sprint.

“I close for the team. Everyone agrees I am the closer,” boomed Speedy. Quickly replied: “Any Speeder out there can hit top five in the Sprint. But we’ve gone through the plan! You need to lead the team and make the first contact in Block Pushing and we send out someone fresh for the final event.”

The argument ended in a compromise: Speedy thought Swifty can race in the Sprint conditional on Swifty “showing their worth” on the Balancing beam, and the captain vetoed Quickly’s plan of having Whizzy in one of the team events.

This is the paradox of the Savage Speeders. After the championships, the gold medals, and the world records, the team fills Marblearth with awe, a team unflappable and assured. However, 2020 also showed us the team’s internal struggles, through a series of candid interviews made when their performance was lacking and increased media access to their facilities.

It reveals a team that has to deal with constant pressure and self-doubt; a team that faced a leadership struggle in 2020; and a team that had to learn how to support each other instead of bringing each other down.

As much as the final plan was a messy compromise, the Speeders’ natural skill led to a comfortable victory in the Qualifiers, with 78 points over four events, three of which were in the top three. Swifty themselves was a sensation, winning the Sprint with a time of 5.203 seconds.

“I have to thank Coach Quickly who told me to give it my all,” said Swifty after the race. “Because it doesn’t matter if we already qualified before my race. Our track performance is never in doubt. And soon no one will doubt we’re winning this Championship.”

Right after the 2020 Marble League flame was phased into the cauldron, the Speeders were swamped by press while rolling off the field. Asked for a quick reaction, Speedy said: “our teamwork is stronger than ever, and other teams like the O’rangers better watch out.”

With words like these, everyone expected a top performance from the Speeders in the opening event, Balancing. It did not look hard to repeat their Qualifiers performance, where Rapidly was the center of a tight formation that led to two marbles reaching the end. Instead, the athletes went off the beam in all directions for a fourteenth-place performance.

The Speeders losing their balance on the beam.

Another team event followed: the Halfpipe, where the Speeders were drawn together with the O’rangers. The two teams’ fan sections were seated next to each other, and both sides pushed themselves to yell louder than the other as the teams streamed out the gate.

Then, disaster: the Speeders saw three O’rangers marbles already slaloming away from the finish, blocking their movement down there. Only Velocity made it to the end, and they gave an O’ranger even more time by pushing back to the end.

“Oh my gosh, so good that it’s another Marble League record!” announced Greg Woods. You could hear nothing but the O’s from O’rangers fans as that team set a new record of 34.49 seconds. The most intense matchup between these two rival teams since 2018’s Ice Hockey ended with the O’rangers soaring to second overall, and the Speeders in last.

Whizzy recounted what they heard in the locker room after that event. “None of us were speaking, even though it wasn’t quiet. The O’rangers fans were loud outside. It was Coach Quickly who first spoke up: ‘Speedy, was it right to set expectations like that?’ They were pretty tough on each other that evening.”

When we interviewed them in 2021, neither the Speeders coach nor the captain would comment further on those interactions. However, according to Quickly, “that was a time when we needed less practice and more communication. Any other team would be over the moon if one of our five athletes joined them. But inside, before and after I joined, too often the athletes feel inferior and anxious because of each other.”

It was that moment that Speedy relented on dictating who should compete in which event, giving full control to the coach. As Quickly recounts it: “Speedy agreed to let me and only me lay out my plan, so I got the team together. I showed them a newspaper claiming we ‘won’t compete for the title’ and crumpled that into the trash.”

(Image Credit: Marble Sports Films)

“Always remember every one of you is an elite athlete, the fastest marbles on Marblearth,” recalled Rapidly of the coach’s pep talk. “Every one of you will podium this Marble League. Every one of you deserves the glory. But to beat the O’rangers and all those top teams, we need teamwork. I am here to tell you there’s no weakest link in this team… when all of us equally contribute, we grow stronger and work better as a team.”

“In particular, I had to work with Whizzy,” said Quickly. The coach revealed Speedy’s insistence that Whizzy should step back and be the reserve member after two infamous performances, losing to the Wisps in the 2018 Sand Moguls and a last-place finish in the 2019 Sprint.

“No repeat medalist in this League gets disrespected as much as them,” said Quickly. “They can call them the ‘reserve’, but to me, those were just labels. Going into Event 3, I told them Whizzy must compete in the funnels. For once, nobody spoke up!”

Coach Quickly rounding up the day with Speeders athletes.
(Photo credit: The Emperor
)

Funnel Endurance is supposed to be a free-for-all in every funnel, a mess from start to finish. But the Speeders keep it steady every time by sending Whizzy, who stabilizes themselves and rarely drops quickly through a sequence of funnels.

For a moment in the first round, after Whizzy was the third to fall into the green funnels, their reputation was about to be broken. But the Speeder would bump several competitors out their way and into the hole in the final funnel, qualifying second in their group.

The Speeder kept to their strategy in the final up to that last funnel, when they collided right away with Kinnowin. With the O’rangers captain hot on their back, Whizzy sped up and broke out from the other competitors bunched in the middle. Then there were only three spinning, only for Whizzy to veer too close in and get bumped by Kinnowin twice. They’d drop down right after and take the bronze.

Stynth, reporting from the scene, would write: “While it is still far from certain whether the Speeders will win the 2020 Marble League, one thing is for certain: they are out of the basement.”

Reflecting on that moment, Whizzy said: “I could hear the Speeders fans cheering for me, but I still felt pretty low about getting knocked out by an O’ranger. It was still good, though.”

What the Speeders fan section really looked forward to was the Newton’s Cradle event, where the duo of Speedy and Rapidly would show up. The team captain smashed into the Cradle with all their might and Rapidly notched up a 99.80. Between runs that day, Rapidly would still talk up how it was good to almost get 100 points until the team saw the O’rangers win it all with a 107.55.

For Coach Quickly, who retold the aftermath, the ninth in Newton’s Cradle “was infuriating. The two of them back then wouldn’t accept pairing with Velocity or Swifty, but that result finally convinced those two the team exists beyond them.”

However, veteran marble sports fans would remember Quickly’s first public statement after the event, which was more strident in tone. With their team eleventh overall and the O’rangers in first, Quickly called their Marble League a “disappointment.” The Coach praised Whizzy as “the only one who showed up” and that “the plan going into the season hasn’t worked.”

Rapidly would not start for the Speeders until the Triathlon. During that interlude in 2020, Rapidly was asked once about Quickly’s statement. Their response was curt: “There’s not much I can say, but I’ll live with it.”

Part of the announcement from Coach Quickly. (Image credit: Marble Sports Films)

From Event 5 to Event 10, Speedy made one appearance on the Block Pushing lineup, while Rapidly raced once in the Triathlon. Despite this, the Speeders had two bronzes and five top-five placements. Across four racing events, the team made it to the finals in all but one: the Triathlon, where Rapidly started.

The Hurdles, Block Pushing, Long Jump, and the Sprint: these were all classic events going back to the first two Marble Leagues. Even though the Speeders regularly scored in the top half in Block Pushing and dominated the track events in 2016 and 2017, it wasn’t clear if their experience could compete against new talents like the Hazers, Raspberry Racers, Green Ducks, or the Minty Maniacs. Their only record against them on the track was in 2019 when the Speeders tied for last across the three major track events.

But with time, Marblearth saw more of Coach Quickly’s strategy. No matter which Speeder started for their team, the same racing style was there. They would not have the flashiest start, but the Speeders rarely veered off in strange directions or saw their momentum come to a stop. Their aim was true and their acceleration was constant, no matter on track, sand, or water.

They would advance again and again off of lapses in their opponents’ judgment. Swifty overtook the Hazers in Hurdles at the final hurdle, climbing out of a heat of death. Or recall how quiet the stands in the Andromedome were during the Sprint semifinal, while a photo finish was arbitrated between Velocity and the Hazers’ Smoggy. The Speeders fans went ballistic when Velocity ran ahead by a millisecond. Right at the finish line, a slight wobble from Smoggy that Velocity lacked could have determined it all.

The team’s fourth place in Block Pushing would be their team-best in the event. In their best push, Speedy rammed into the block and sent it flying, sliding only on the far end. With Swifty, Velocity, and Whizzy quickly catching up, the block kept going and ended up at 81.80.

No good news lasts forever, though, and the Speeders would lose their touch in multiple finals. Swifty took the first hurdle at a bad angle and could never catch up again to the Wisps and Raspberry Racers. Both them and Velocity would lose their grip halfway through the final, on the Sand Moguls and Sprint respectively.

Locked in a three-way tie for second at the Triathlon semifinals, Rapidly sped up so much going into the dive that they stumbled before they swam. The battle for second was lost soon after, in exchange for several shoves between Rapidly and the Wisps’ Wospy. That was how the star Speeder ended in seventh.

“After Triathlon I was getting ready to test the sand myself, but I talked to Rapidly about all that contact going on,” said Swifty. “I told them: ‘What gives? That was Wospy, you saved them on O’raceway five months ago! Why so aggressive?’ I didn’t get a word out of them at the time, though.”

Full contact between Rapidly and Wospy in the Triathlon.

As noted by Stynth,

Funnel events are all about maintaining speed [and] colliding as little as possible.

from “Podium Moments – ML2020 Event 11”, by Stynth

Not surprisingly, Speedy and Rapidly wanted to go out again for Event 11, the Black Hole Funnel. “It was a risk,” reflected Coach Quickly. “I could have seen Velocity and Whizzy up there, and the rest of the team agreed with me. However, talking to Speedy changed my mind.”

The decision to drop into the Black Hole was one of the few Speedy would discuss with us at length. “The reasoning was simple – this is a big funnel where you are rarely colliding against others. That means the marbles who proved their grip on the Marbula track should go. If you can believe it, the Coach wanted me to start in High Jump at first. I told the Coach ‘I don’t do that.'”

The Speeders would win overall gold and hold the highest scoring run in the whole event, at 58.32 seconds. Interviewed alone by Stynth afterward, Speedy and Rapidly were jubilant. The Captain said: “They called the season ‘over’ for us…when it had barely begun.”

Stynth also wrote:

It is easy to look at a team that consistently does so well and think that it’s always that simple—but for the Speeders, it is not.

from “Podium Moments – ML2020 Event 12”, by Stynth

The Speeders had two past golds in the Relay Run, but this season’s top overall teams had the momentum going in. The O’rangers barely lost out in the 2019 Relay, while the Minty Maniacs just won a gold in the Sprint.

The Speeders had their main lineup of Velocity, Swifty, Rapidly, and Speedy, a dream team by any sense of the term. Yet this team barely beat out Mellow Yellow in the opening heat to place in second, far behind the winning Oceanics. Meanwhile, the O’rangers demolished the current Marble League Relay record.

“It was too tense! We didn’t even dare say a word to each other!” said Swifty. Playing the starter, Swifty’s poor handoff to Velocity almost sunk their team when Team Momo dashed past them. Watching Momomomo stumble on the anchor leg, Speedy picked up the pace and forced a photo finish. Once again, it was the Speeders who advanced by a millisecond.

The final, judging by team momentum, was really between the Raspberry Racers and the O’rangers, neither of whom faced stiff competition in their rounds. Speedy switched with Swifty to take the first leg, only to stumble out the gate and see Clementin leave the Captain far behind. Velocity ran their leg, and the O’rangers’ lead grew more.

Then Greg Woods spoke for all of us: “The O’rangers have done it again – but here come the Speeders in the lane right next to them!” In the third leg, Rapidly charged like a speeding bullet, beating Orangin in the other lane to the anchor leg. Kinnowin stumbled, and maybe that did not even matter. Swifty stuck to their plan and finished several lengths ahead.

The Speeders won the gold against the O’rangers and were now second in the standings. After the Hurdles, the O’rangers were in first and the Speeders were 38 points behind. Now they trailed by ten.

In one event, the Speeders let the gap with the O’rangers grow to 35. Whizzy placed last in the High Jump, the only competitor to not clear the 36 cm mark. The booing from the Speeders fan section felt longer than the jumps Whizzy made.

“All I could hear for the next three days was the booing, and the loud O’s when Mandarin took the gold,” said Whizzy. “I couldn’t sleep because I was replaying it.”

Rapidly talked about the “despair” of that moment, while Velocity admitted their rage over not being picked despite doing well in Long Jump. For the Coach, however, there was planning to do. “A team in a Collision is only as good as their weakest link, and Whizzy was not ready mentally. If we don’t knock Collision out of the park, the championship is over. I asked Speedy to figure out Aquathlon because my focus was on our fifth member.”

In a sly tone, Speedy said they can’t comment on how they prepared the team for Event 14. But the results were undeniable: By diving into the water with lots of space between them, the Speeders could accelerate underwater and cut through any formation by their opponents.

Having beaten three teams on pure speed, the Speeders in the final faced off against the Midnight Wisps, masters of tactics. With three Speeders rolling off to one side, one of the Wisps went over and got to nudge all of them off course. And yet, it was Velocity who made a last-minute push, forcing a photo finish. They were a hundredth of a second away from taking gold for their team.

Photo finish in the Aquathlon final.

The Speeders were twenty points behind the O’rangers going into Collision. It was an event that commentators say the Speeders were “historically terrible” at, but there was no precedent for this moment. Unlike the past, the Speeders decelerated more going into the dominoes and knew how to avoid all the electrons and planet balls careening their way. They won every one of their group matches.

The toughest match for the Speeders during the knockout round was against Mellow Yellow, where the latter’s tight formation sent the Speeders flying all kinds of ways. By what both Quickly and Speedy call a “miracle,” one of their opponent’s athletes dropped out at the last second and the Speeders advanced with a 3-2 score.

“I don’t know how they did it, but Coach Quickly just felt something was wrong,” said Whizzy. It was the reserve who Quickly instructed to start further to their right, a formation change the Coach immediately petitioned to the JMRC. The request was approved right as the Wisps slinked off stage in their defeat, and the move paid off: the team launched out in a more coherent spear formation, beating the Minty Maniacs 4-1.

The Speeders and the Minty Maniacs, moments before impact.

It all ended with a safe formation and a tight Speeders win over the Thunderbolts, 4-3. Fans of all stripes were amazed, and answering their call Stynth interviewed the Coach after the Speeders waved before their ecstatic fans. Back then, the Coach told us: “I have little details to give you. It is our team’s tradition not to reveal our training strategies.”

Asked a year later about their Collision preparations, Quickly responded: “There is still little to say, but I will say that gold is my greatest achievement. It is the result of every member of this team cohering together and trusting each other.”

The whole team, coach included, in an embrace after the Collision gold.

The Speeders were five points ahead into the final Marathon. Stynth, interviewing Captain Speedy before the race, got the following answer:

I do not doubt that I am going to win the event and the championship. There is no other outcome.

from “Podium Moments – ML2020 Event 15”, by Stynth

Twice the Speeders captain started for the team in a championship’s final event – 2016’s Hurdles and Marbula One’s Midnight Bay – and twice they won the event and the title. Sprinting past sector and sector to go from last to second in the qualifying race, Speedy’s promise seemed inevitable. Imagine the surprise among the team when Speedy went wide on the first turn of the Stardust Accelerator, falling nine places as they got pushed out to start the Marathon proper.

“I know Speedy will never admit to this, but after that first sector the Speeders’ plans were done, out the window!” reflected Kinnowin on that race. “And I can admit to myself our plans were done too. That whole race for me and them was just about quick reactions, fighting between each other on every turn. It got pretty ugly.”

Speedy chasing after Kinnowin at the start of a new lap.

With Speedy and Kinnowin bumping back and forth, Coach Quickly fixed their sight on the front. “There wasn’t anything to say to our Captain, not until we knew who’s likely to be first,” recalled Quickly. It was not until Lap 20, after Wospy faltered and Minty Fresh started growing their lead, that Quickly said they sent a message to Speedy on the team radio: “Ease up, just beat O1 and it’s ours.”

Speedy would finish ninth that race, two ahead of Kinnowin. The exact gap, however, was less important. What’s important is that after the O’rangers beat the Speeders last minute in 2017, the reverse came to be in 2020. The media thought the Speeders were past their prime, and they were wrong. Coach Quickly was right: the Savage Speeders won the 2020 Marble League.

Before the final event, Quickly says they met with Coach Rango; with both scrutinized every day over coaching two of Marblearth’s most storied teams, they formed a bond on the job. It was Coach Rango who, seeing the most spiteful of the O’rangers’ fans, suggested both teams should join together in a show of unity no matter the result.

The shouting between the Speeders and O’rangers fan sections, which were right beside each other, turned to cheers toward a circle on the field, with both teams standing side-by-side around the trophy. “This trophy goes out as well to our greatest competitor, as well as marble sports fans across the world,” declared Speedy to applause.

It was then that Quickly was pushed to take the final roll down the winner’s track, having the honor of dousing the Marble League flame. “It was not an easy year – none of the Speeders’ years were easy,” reflected the Coach. “But 2020 is the best so far.”

Unlike the urban legend among Speeders fans, the team does take some time off of practice in the summer off-season. Between the galas and gatherings they attended, the two siblings, Rapidly and Speedy, were also interviewed by Stynth:

I stood aside from the city’s mayor and the Speeders’ new manager, Savvy, as they handed the Speeders their second honorary key to the city after their homecoming parade…

“It makes us look tough,” Speedy asserted. “But of course we’re happy we won the Marble League! Between this championship and winning both Marbula One championships, this is our year.”

“You don’t need to put that façade up,” Coach Quickly disagreed. “It doesn’t make you look tough. It makes you look out-of-touch.”

“We’re the best team in the League. We are untouchable,” refuted Rapidly.

Coach Quickly sighed.

from “Offseason Moments – ML2020 Part 1”, by Stynth

Rapidly, by their admission, does not go on vacation often. However, scheduled between the training Quickly proposed for them or the publicity shoots Manager Savvy set up, they said “it was nice to have some private time with my friends and people I trust.”

Ahead of the second season of Marbula One, Rapidly led a team of four to travel across Marblearth. They raced up and down Colina Umerun in Numerun, saw the gleaming skyscrapers around Zuro’s main boulevard, then retreated to the fjords west of Thorston. Another team would meet them there for the week: the Midnight Wisps, four of their friendliest rivals.

“Don’t whine if we got 139!” said Wisps Captain Wispy at the time, to fewer Speeders laughter than they expected. “The Speeders are the best team of all time, so you know we think about if 2018 was just a fluke.”

“They are not the villains some fans think,” said Wospy. “Not just Rapidly, but the whole team was there for us after that experience on the O’raceway. We’re not in the best mood either after losing that auto-qualifier, so it’s nice to bond over both our near misses now.”

“It’s nice to get our feelings out, and they seemed more emotive than usual then,” said Wuspy. “Rapidly said they’re sorry for what they did to us at Polaria, but we still don’t know what they referred to.”

The Speeders and the Midnight Wisps going hiking together.
(Photo credit: The Emperor
)

There is one conspicuous absence in this story: Speedy, the Captain. “Well, it’s been four years now where they travel off somewhere without telling us,” explained Velocity. “It does annoy me a lot, but when you’re the greatest living athlete you don’t go by other people’s rules.”

Despite multiple inquiries from us, no one within the Speeders organization or any other team recalls seeing Speedy that off-season. The one exception was Minty Fresh, 2020’s highest-scoring individual athlete. They recall a surprise appearance by Speedy on the Minty Mania grounds, a few weeks before the Grand Prix took place.

“The two of us went off to the side and had an intense conversation,” said the Minty Maniac. “A lot of Speedy wanting to know my training regimen, but also telling me how I can improve my mindset and maintain top placements. The only issue was a week after, I had a hard time remembering all the detailed suggestions they gave!”

(Photo credit: Piney)

According to Coach Quickly, Speedy and Rapidly were finally back in Vellis ten days before traveling to the Minty Mania GP for Marbula One Season 2. “I would have liked to have more of a discussion about racer choice,” said the coach, “but Speedy had one sentence for me: ‘Without Rapidly in the Relay, we would only have silver and would have lost the Championship.’ Fair enough.”

Qualifying Day came along in Herbotamia, and Speeders fans hollered when Speedy rolled onto Minty Mania. Across three qualifier rounds and two race-offs, the defending Racer’s Champion was in better form than ever. What caused them to start at P4 was not bad defense or lack of acceleration, but because they overshot the belt in the final race-off and fell two rungs. 

That small error did not seem a big deal. Speedy moved their way up to P2 behind Yellow Eye as the race started and played perfect defense, keeping on the track’s center and not letting a train of racers behind them pace. Only one snuck by: Team Momo’s Momo. It was on Lap 5 when speeding up out of the banked turn to catch Momo, that Speedy crashed.

They bounced up the circuit’s conveyor belt rather than lodging on it, arching down into the belt’s side gear. The red flag lights flashed and the belt shut down, but not after the gears already scratched Speedy and juggled them in the air.

With the other racers stopped by the belt, cheers turned into whispers. All marbles were propped still except for the stewards rolling in to retrieve Speedy. “I remember saying, tell me they’re OK please, tell me they’re okay,” said Wospy.

An artist’s rendition of concerned racers after Speedy’s crash.
(Image credit: Piney)

Carried up the belt and off the circuit, Speedy was immediately checked up in the garage. When medics announced they had only minor scratches, the crowd roared and the race restarted. “It’s just a miracle, the greatest one that team pulled off,” said Coach Rango.

But, for the first time, Speedy watched a race roll on that they could not finish. When asked by us about their feelings during that race, Speedy showed us a shelf with hundreds of cards bearing well wishes. There was optimism from athletes like Starry, Kinnowin, and Yellow looking to challenge Speedy again soon; long prose from coaches and sportswriters; and a few from Accellaise’s youth, children who were inspired by Speedy to get into sports themselves.

“Honestly, I don’t remember the pain I felt in that moment – though it hurt,” said Speedy. “I remember the fear from thinking ‘is this the end? Will I never be as fast as I was? Will I ever race again?’ “

Speedy let go of the cards, then continued: “If I never raced again, how will Marblearth remember me? Marble training will improve in the future, so I doubt I am the greatest racer of all time. Then will they remember me for my controversies, my conduct, my character?

“I always thought those questions distract from practice, from maintaining my fitness. But the week Rapidly raced, I took time off to ponder this. I didn’t train at all going up to Honeydome. My mind was somewhere else.”

Speedy being checked by medics after the Minty Mania GP restart.

Rapidly would have their opening race at the O’raceway, and the potential duel with Orangin of the O’rangers was all the rage. With both putting in average Q1 times, they were side by side on the starting grid at tenth and eleventh. On the first lap of the O’raceway Grand Prix, it was Rapidly who stepped up through the sand and rushed to fifth. Suddenly, Rapidly took the 45-degree turn into Sector 3 wrong and got checked left and right by Orangin and Red Eye.

Finishing the first lap in eleventh, Rapidly would only do worse. Time and time again they’d deflect off the curb into Sector 3 rather than turning next to it, wasting valuable seconds and getting overtaken. Even as Orangin befell a similar fate, there was no satisfaction. Orangin placed second to last, but Rapidly ended dead last.

In the post-race press conference, reporters were treated to an unusual sight. Rapidly openly criticized some coaching and management decisions, saying they were not given enough chances to race ahead of Marbula One. “It doesn’t help that the O’rangers had all these great fixes to the track that made it so hard to race skillfully on.” If the press moved on that time, it’s because neither Quickly nor Rango commented on the stir.

Rapidly finishing in last place on the O’raceway.

The Speeders’ stay in the bottom three of the rankings was brief. As soon as Speedy finished their qualifying lap at Honeydome in the top eight, the air around them felt different. They drifted across the Bee Dance sector with ease and never slowed down in the Hive, sneaking around Bumble on the last corner of their hometown track to take pole position.

Beaten to the inside line out the start by Bumble, Speedy would get bumped side to side by competitors and fall to eighth by Lap 2. But then the Racer Champion showed their true skill – the power to stay on the racing line on tricky turns like the Bee Dance or the final M-shaped chicane. Weaving around those who overtook them, Speedy circled Momo by Lap 5 to retake the lead.

Speedy, Momo, Bumble: the race’s top three danced around each other to take a decisive lead, but it was the Speeder who was on point whether on turns, straights, or the belt. Once Speedy built up a distance away from second place, the other two faltered.

“Speedy gets the win, the Savage Speeders’ first of the season of Marbula One!” Announced Greg Woods. The Speeders fans were not the largest, but they were the loudest that day. Their idol was back in it all.

The one wrinkle in their hopes was the Tumult Turnpike. With some questionable choices in their racing line, Speedy qualified poorly and started P16 there. Making it through all the chaos in the opening laps, the Speeders Captain would fight up the standings to finish ninth. With 30 points, they were seventh out of 40 racers.

Speedy celebrating gold at the Honeydome GP.

Rapidly was a different story. After the O’raceway, the team’s second racer took to the asphalt at the Aquamaring and Arctic Circuit. On the former track Rapidly placed last: they kept taking the outer lane of the central split, colliding and never picking up momentum. On the Arctic Circuit, a poor start by Rapidly compounded when they collided against the sharp Turn 7, swiveling for a moment before racing again.The time was 23.93, just below the cutoff for qualifying for the main race with Rima and Red Eye to go. On the same day that Rima asserted their place in Season 2 and Red Eye looked to nab another gold, Rapidly caused the Savage Speeders to not qualify for the first time in any JMR event.

Rapidly slumping by the belt after their Arctic Circuit Q1 lap.

What happened after Rapidly’s DNQ was not revealed until after the Marbula One season concluded when a recording surfaced of a meeting between the Speeders’ Marbula One team. Coach Quickly would eventually confirm the recording is factual.

At the start of the tape, Quickly made mention of Speedy, Rapidly, and Swifty in the same room. Then they revealed the reason for the talk: Quickly made an inquiry to the JMRC on whether a racer can be swapped out after Race 6, and the Coach wanted to raise the possibility of swapping Rapidly for Swifty. 

“Are you thinking straight?” Was Speedy’s only reply. Quickly then went into a long speech where they analyzed Rapidly’s racing failures, predicting they would finish in the bottom quarter among all racers this season. To conclude, the Coach said: “Even if there are family bonds between you and Rapidly, the stats don’t give me much hope. Starting next year Rapidly can focus on Marble League 2021 instead.”

“I know Rapidly much better than you could,” retorted Speedy on the tape. “And this move by you is out of the line. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Several minutes of yelling over each other followed. During one part, Speedy can be heard saying Rapidly won gold medals before Coach Quickly was involved in sports. During another, Quickly claims Speedy is jealous because Swifty has raced better than the Captain. Then, the sound of rolling is heard.

“You’ve made excuses for your sibling for three years now, but I thought you’d shut up when the team’s reputation is on the line,” Quickly can be heard saying. “I’m done with you two. If you think your sibling’s so great, figure their racing out yourself.” According to Swifty, the ear-splitting crash ending the recording was the moment Quickly swung the locker door behind them. “It was just silence between the three of us there… when Speedy started rolling out, I went right after the Captain. We had to give Rapidly some space.”

Rapidly at the press conference following Arctic Circuit. Taken by photographer Baron at Cable Marble Media.

After the Arctic Circuit GP, the media only heard from Manager Savvy that there would be an unexpected delay in the Speeders press conference. When Rapidly came out and was asked if their underperformance was due to “personal troubles,” they responded: 

I appreciate that some people may be trying to give me an excuse to fall back on, please ignore the rumors. These results, whether they are wins or losses, are mine and I own them. I’ve won, and I’ve lost. That’s the game we play…

I do not want my failures to be excused by claims of personal troubles, or injuries, or anything at all. I own it all. I own the wins, and I will own the losses.

From that day to the Winter Special, the Speeders were a non-entity. They were eleventh overall in Marbula One, Rapidly was without points, and Manager Savvy had nothing to comment on any journalistic inquiry. The Marblebase would gossip back and forth on whether Rapidly would be sacked until a short JMRC statement noted no M1 team made a final request to swap racers mid-season.

Finally, on a snowy night at the foot of the Himarblelayas, the Speeders’ team plane touched down and carried the whole team in it. Speeders fans crowded around every athlete they knew, their coach, and their manager. Silent as they rolled past upon arrival, the team issued a statement from Captain Speedy: the team would use the Marble League Winter Special to showcase athletes apart from Rapidly and themselves, so the M1 racers would not have to overexert.

For a brief moment, all four Marble League champions are peacefully in each other’s company.

According to the JMRC, the Speeders were invited to the Winter Special as the runners-up of 2018’s Winter Marble League. As much as they acted like they were invisible the whole tournament, the Speeders were as fast as ever. Swifty could have scored higher in fifth in Ice Dash if not for losing a photo finish, and the same for Whizzy’s sixth in the Snowboard Cross if not for a block by Team Galactic. Less memorable were Velocity’s last place in Speed Skating and a sixth-place in Bobsled marred by a bumpy finish.

Going into the final Ice Hockey event, Speedy and Quickly appeared together at a press conference for the first time since Tumult Turnpike. Their answers to questions were curt, but the idea was clear: Both marbles were sharing coaching duties in search of a Hockey Gold that eluded them in 2018.

What followed was the peak of the tournament for the Speeders, starting from when they quickly dispatched the Green Ducks and the Snowballs. Playing against Team Galactic in the semi-final, the Speeders nearly lost by one if not for Rapidly checking a Galactic defender and letting it all tie up 3-3. Then the two teams went into a double-overtime grudge match, broken at the last second by a Rapidly back-hander into the Galactic net.

Rapidly checking the defense and letting one more puck pass through.

“Those two overtimes were so contact heavy, we were really out of breath coming out of it,” said Swifty. In the final, the Raspberry Racers not only had more stamina but also had a whole separate section of Oceanics fans shouting for them. The Speeders were outplayed in the final 4-1, but still walked away with a silver medal.

According to independent analyst Roilan, the Speeders’ Whizzy made the most saves while Swifty shot the most goals. With every Speeder on a podium for the first time since Polaria, the warmth started to show in the team. Looking back, Coach Quickly places more emphasis: “We needed that moment to bring some joy back into our lineup.”

In less than a week, Speedy was across half of Marblearth and testing the straights on the Raceforest circuit. A repeat Racer’s Championship was possible, and the Captain fielded more questions about whether they could beat the Cat’s Eyes, Hazy, or Billy. The answers were generic: they would beat them all, no doubt.

That Grand Prix was the first time Speedy raced against Red Eye in Marbula One, and the first time Speedy was beaten by Red Eye. The Cat’s Eye ran a faster Q1 lap, then defended against Speedy behind them for three straight laps. It all came undone when Red Eye smacked against the starting lights, letting Speedy roll past – but not enough to overtake Team Primary’s Rima for pole.

In the main race, we saw Speedy’s lesson from the Qualifier was “be more aggressive.” The Speeder cut right in front of polesitter Rima before the first turn, only to see Red Eye nudge them off the racing line and lead out of the first sector. Speedy was more consistent exiting the belt, but Red Eye’s superior handling of straights meant the lead traded back and forth between these two.

The theatrics started on Lap 10 when the nearly lapped Razzy stuck to the middle of the track and refused to let Red Eye through. Cutting ahead of Red Eye to take first, Speedy found themselves just as vulnerable to Razzy. The racing was tense, Speedy going bumper to bumper trying to overtake the Raspberry Racer.

“This is not that hard, I thought, they were a mediocre racing team,” said Speedy. “But it was aggression I wasn’t used to, and I kept hitting more and more curbs. That was how Red Eye overtook me for the last time.”

A clash of titans culminates in one clear victory – the Crimson Cat.

After fifteen laps, it was Red Eye with the double gold medal this season. Diplomatic after the race, Speedy in their mind must have rewound Greg Woods’s call of the last lead change: from the defending Racer Champion, a “momentary lapse of judgment.”

Much occupied Speedy’s mind at that time. They would explain that they had little time for personal training because after Coach Quickly’s ultimatum they were focusing on Rapidly. Whole days were spent practicing with Speedy’s sibling, trying to resolve what the Captain diagnosed as a “lack of drive.”

“Rapidly’s qualifying laps were mediocre, with little understanding of the right line into turns,” diagnosed Speedy. “They then start in the middle of the pack and make no effort to climb up like we did last season. A few laps later, Rapidly is far behind the midfield and doomed to be out of points.”

 “Everything Speedy said to me made sense, and we worked long hours on how to race differently,” said Rapidly. “But the day before we traveled to Om, I wasn’t up to Speedy’s standards and they said to me: ‘I wish I knew why you aren’t how you used to be.’ Which is … the point isn’t for Speedy to know me better than myself.”

Speedy racing ahead of Rapidly in training.
(Photo credit: Vector)

At the Momotorway, the worst of Speedy’s predictions came true. Rapidly collided against the attenuator out of Sector 1 in qualifying, placing eleventh on the grid in the end. At the Grand Prix’s start, Rapidly barely accelerated going in and out of the wide 180-degree turn, and would take turns too late, colliding with the side. By Lap 3, they were last and only got slower. Rapidly’s final finishing time was 20 seconds behind Yellow Eye’s championship-defining win.

There were no reporters crammed into Rapidly’s press conference as in the past, and the racer could only say one thing before leaving: “I’m sorry for disappointing the fans.”

Rapidly (top) a full turn behind the midfield (bottom).

At Palette Park, Speedy qualified at a respectable seventh, several rows ahead of Racer Championship leaders like Red Eye and Bolt. However, press questions still focused mostly on whether the Speeder fears those rival racers could catch up to them. At one point, the Captain exclaimed: “What do you want to know?! I don’t know how Red Eye trained to be this good and I don’t want to know how.”

“It was a lapse of judgment,” recalled Speedy. “But I was so used to calling myself the closer, not these new racers. The skills to go from the back row and front row are rare, and they’re owned by me. At least, that was what my ego told me.”

Racing on the fastest track of the season, Speedy’s experience showed. While the dark horses like Pulsar or Tumult took the early lead, Speedy overtook them all by avoiding crashing out on the straights and banked turns. Then came the race’s second half.

“Wospy has recovered very nicely, up into second place!” announced Greg Woods. “I think Speedy could see Wospy coming up the belt, so went on the inside just to be safe.” What seemed like strategy – Speedy swerving inside one lap and outside another – might have been hesitancy and fear as Wospy kept making up the gap.

On Lap 16, Speedy was overtaken after a poor belt exit. Greg Woods chuckled: “Wospy, into the lead – and that was from dead last!” Speedy accelerated past Wospy the next lap and built up a bigger lead, but the two were neck and neck again at the penultimate lap.

On the third turn of that lap, Speedy got forced by Wospy up a curb, ceding the lead. On the final lap, Speedy accelerated one last time to get right behind Wospy, but it fell short. Wospy became the first racer to go from last to first in Marbula One history.

The three medalists of the Palette Park GP unintentionally recreate the 2020 Team Aquathlon podium, following yet another tense finish.

Rapidly recalls what happened after. “Speedy was being diplomatic in public. Losing two close finishes like that made them heartbroken. They told me we can’t train together anymore, because Speedy needed to focus on themselves. And the best thing I did that season was knowing I’m on my own, but not isolating myself.”

Rapidly filed through a stack of letters, and picked out one from Wospy sent after Palette Park. “Dear Rapidly – I wouldn’t have won that Marbula gold without you,” they read, “… At my lowest point, you kept me going on the track and showed me one failure didn’t mean I should be left behind… The world of marble racing needs you to contend like you always had.”

“After the Momotorway, I talked to Whizzy more about composure as well as to others,” said Rapidly. “Then Wospy sent me that message, I read it and I broke down that second. I needed someone to tell me that. I own my failures, but it’s not right for me to be defined by them!”

“There were three days I spent with Rapidly after Palette Park before their long ride to Misty Mountain,” said Whizzy, “and something changed. They were colliding less with me in training, daring to glide on top of track curbs and more. The fire in them was alive.”

The top four bunched up in Q3 at the Savage Speedway.

Flying through the fog, Rapidly made it past the Misty Mountain’s Q1 round for the first time in three races, starting in sixth. Once the race started, Rapidly swerved beautifully past one marble and another, sticking to the racing line down the pair of Z turns in Sector 2. Halfway through the race, the Speeder put some distance between their opponents, placing provisionally in fourth.

Without much to do with the drama at the front, Rapidly went to third before the restart by profiting off Wispy colliding with Bumble at the sharp corner. Then, on the first lap of the restart, they sped up on the final straight and swerved between Starry and Cerulean to take the lead.

For the first time this season, Rapidly led a lap—two, in fact. In the end, some solid defense from Hazy and Mallard held the racer back to third place. But that third is a Marbula One podium placement for Rapidly over a year in the making.

Rapidly leads a lap with very little of the race to go.

“I stepped onto the podium that day, with a bottle to celebrate, and I just felt it was so fun – like it was when last season started.” said Rapidly. “Coach Quickly was at my side, and before we got on they said to me ‘I’m sorry for what I said.’ But it was okay because I told Coach as well – right now is a time to party.”

As Rapidly’s redemption began, Speedy was in a bind. The Captain had a chance to defend their Racer’s Championship title against the two Cat’s Eyes, but their real objective was more visceral. “I can’t help but think I must beat Red Eye again where it mattered,” they recalled.

The Captain was aware of Coach Quickly –  if not the whole Speeders team – saying they should run at Midnight Bay as the best way to get a second gold. Yet, Speedy insisted they should run and win at the Savage Speedway, supposedly to entertain as many home fans as possible. Once White Eye repeated that Red Eye would run on the Speedway, Quickly thought: “Speedy went out because they think it’s destiny, even if I don’t.”

In the Q1 round, Speedy pulled a respectable time: 24.551 seconds, just milliseconds behind two others for provisional fourth fastest lap. The cheering home circuit fans quickly held their breath, seeing Red Eye’s time right after: 24.337, the fastest by several lengths.

The two race-offs turned into a duel between Speedy and Red Eye for pole position. Making up ground, Speedy was on the same belt rung as Red Eye, until the Cat’s Eye’s great belt exit left Speedy far behind. “Speedy looks a bit shocked,” said Greg Woods: Red Eye won a decisive pole position, Speedy in P2.

The top four bunched up in Q3 at the Savage Speedway.

The two giants were still on the same row on the starting grid: there was time to turn it around for the Speeders. But two laps in, the dream was over. While Speedy was boxed in on all sides by Ocean, Minty Drizzel, and Prim, Red Eye was ahead of the pack and their lead grew wider and wider. Speedy weaving between friend and foe on the Speedway’s long straight was more performance than anything that mattered. 

Red Eye clinched the Racer and Team Championships by running eight seconds ahead of all others. Speedy’s racing was more uneven and eventually, they were overtaken by Starry, finishing in sixth.

Fate was unkind toward Speedy this Marbula One season. There was no comeback and the suspense for the Championships resolved in a way no Speeders fan wanted. In this season Speedy was consistently one of the best, but just got beaten for gold at the end of races again and again. Following a few words of congratulation for Red Eye, Speedy retreated from the fans’ view and into the garage.

A fair share of the home fans rolled out of the stands before the podium ceremony took place. For the few that stayed around longer, they tried to sound optimistic. “I still have faith in our captain, and they and Rapidly will always be the core of the team for me,” said one interviewee. “And after seeing this whole race with Red Eye… sometimes you just have to recognize greatness.”

Red Eye speeds away during the race, deciding the championship on their terms with a triple-crown win at the Savage Speedway.

Midnight Bay, the circuit marking the Speeders’ first taste of glory last year, was now a race without stakes. Rapidly raced for the team at a time when the fans were mainly worried Yellow Eye and Hazy could squeeze Speedy out of the Racer’s Championship Podium altogether.

Rapidly finished the Midnight Bay Qualifiers in tenth, nowhere near the main news that day as Bolt did not qualify while Cerulean took pole in a statement after Misty Mountain. On race day, seconds in Rapidly jumped up the curb around the opening hairpin, falling to fifteenth. The team radio, however, sounded unfazed. “It’s not a fatal error,” broadcasted Quickly. “The plan is still in motion, focus on belt exit.”

Focus is what Rapidly did, accelerating to the belt’s center and then skirting by the opening curbs. At the start of Lap 2, they went from fifteenth to seventh. The climb only continued: they, Razzy, and Cerulean were the only racers to consistently not overshoot the hairpins and get stuck on the curbs.

Ten laps in, Rapidly saw Razzy wobbling from a poor turn around the opening hairpin and darted past to take the lead. “A great move there, going around the outside!” exclaimed Greg Woods. Even if Cerulean sped up to take second by the final lap, it was never bumper to bumper between them. Rapidly, to the fan’s cheers, won the Midnight Bay Grand Prix by over a second.

Rapidly celebrates their race win at the Midnight Bay GP alone on the top step of the podium, with Quickly looking up from the bottom.

The garage erupted with noise after Rapidly’s win. Over the radio, Coach Quickly could be heard: “That was perfect.” Speedy would recall thinking to themselves: “I don’t understand what just happened, but my sibling is back.” If Speedy wanted to talk with Rapidly after the race podium celebrations, there was no time. Rapidly just pushed their sibling back up the podium so they’d accept their second place in the Team Championship.

In the end, even if the Crazy Cat’s Eyes dominated Marbula One Season 2, the Speeders were the next best thing. Rapidly’s gold meant the team climbed from fourth to second, and Speedy ultimately saved their second place in the Racer Championship.

“I think back to what I said about Red Eye out of passion, and no champion deserves to be questioned that way,” said Speedy after the festivities were over. “This is a season full of legends old and new. I’ll see you all again for Season 3.” Meanwhile, Rapidly was too busy rolling with joy in front of the Speeders fan section.

On one of our final days at the Vellis training complex, a group interview with the team was delayed because they spent extra time diagnosing Rapidly’s middling 23rd out of 28 at the Felynia Practice Race. Manager Savvy instead toured us around the complex, more than any outsider has before. For the first time, we saw the variety of contraptions and courses inside, the latter built of various materials, more than enough with which to host a Marble League.

With only time to ask one question with the whole team before the day was over, we asked whether the team was willing to host a Marble League soon. “We think about it all the time, but now we know the real issue is the pressure it puts on us,” said Coach Quickly. “I respect the Crazy Cat’s Eyes for juggling winning Marbula One and hosting this year, but I can’t imagine the stress they’re under to excel at both.”

“The more pressure you face in your life, the sooner the cracks start to show,” said Whizzy. “Sometimes we need to take a step back and fix what was broken.” It was a wise comment to which the whole team nodded in agreement.

To make up for the delay, our reporters saw how the Speeders usually wrap up training days: the team, Coach included, would race one more time against each other on a random track, which this time was a combination sprint and sand moguls track.

Coach Quickly, being larger than the others, stumbled early out of the gate as they usually do. The other five stayed balanced in their track lanes, before swinging and jostling each other over the sand up to the finish. Three red blurs rolled through the finish line: Speedy, Whizzy, and Velocity in a photo finish.

“You know, let’s just call it a tie for first between us three,” said Speedy. Our reporters waved goodbye after that moment, but as we left we saw a cheery sight: the Speeders were huddling together, laughing. 

In RetRollSpective, the Savage Speeders are a team that is as complex as champions get. They reached the pinnacle in both Marble League and Marbula One. They hold the record for the most total medals in the Marble League (24) and most golds (11). Despite their storied successes, the Speeders’ internal culture reached such a pressure point that it could have put some athletes’ careers on the line. Fortunately for us on the outside, the team processed through the worst and is ready for Marble League 2021. Unfortunately for the other teams, this means you once again can’t count out the Savage Speeders to win it all. Best of luck to the Savage Speeders in the 2021 Marble League, keep on rolling!

Special thanks to Jaiden, whose experience as the
Speeders fan account owner enriched this addendum.
Some dialogue was adapted from his work.

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