Steel Ball Run - Chapter 5
First Stage: 15,000 Meters (
Steven invites journalists as well as spectators to follow the race by train. Once all the passengers are in the train, Steven describes the development of the race and its routes: along the 6,000 km from San Diego to New York and the Atlantic Ocean are checkpoints set in nine places, including New York. These checkpoints are places for identifying race ranking, running time, and checking for illegal activity such as horse exchanges. Each race up to the checkpoints is called a stage. The 1st stage is a sprint run that will end at the Catholic church 15,000 meters ahead. The champion of each stage will receive a bonus of $10,000 and a time bonus of one hour.
As Steven finishes explaining the time bonus, one of the horses speeds off away from the starting line ahead of the other racers, stunning the onlookers. The announcers on the train try to get a look at the racer's saddle cloth, and one announcer uses his telescope to make out B-636: Gyro Zeppeli. Steven asks his representative who Gyro is, and the representative replies that there are no records of him.
Johnny watches Gyro speed up, thinking he is probably going to rely on his horse's stamina and speed in this stage but doubts that he can keep up the pace for the whole 15,000 meters. As Gyro continues to run ahead of the other racers, Diego Brando catches up to him from behind while Urmd Avdul catches up to him from the left side and charges at him. Johnny comments that while the camel may appear to run slowly, its legs are twice the length of the horse's, its stride can accelerate enough to compete with the speed of a horse, and its weight is 1.5 times heavier than a horse. As Avdul hits Gyro, causing him to lose speed, Diego takes advantage of this and moves forward. Gyro takes one of his Steel Balls out and throws it as he runs into a grove of trees with Avdul following him. Avdul lunges into what he thinks will be the final blow for Gyro and his horse, but it turns out to be a group of cacti. Avdul is eliminated from the race in the first 1,000 meters.
Johnny considers how the Steel Ball's vibration might have helped Gyro locate the cacti. Gyro says that (except for diseases) he will take whatever he can get, especially time bonuses.