It’s the moment none of you have been waiting for, all thanks to the mind of Mr. Sato!

We’ve all been there. You’re clocked in to work, sitting at your desk and plugging away at your regular responsibilities, when your boss taps you on the shoulder and says he needs you to stop what you’re doing and carry a giant panda across town.

No? Just us? Huh, we’re starting to think our jobs might not be normal.

In any case, though, that’s what happened to our crack reporter Mr. Sato earlier this week. Really the only silver lining was that our boss, SoraNews24 founder Yoshio, didn’t order Mr. Sato to carry a live panda, just a gigantic plushie.

In addition to the SoraNews24 offices and the SoraHouse in the mountains, we also have a SoraApartment in downtown Tokyo that serves as temporary housing for some of our long-term assignments. That apartment is where we’d been keeping the giant panda plushie (which we got from Costco, where we go for our all our ridiculously huge stuffed bear needs), but Yoshio had decided it wasn’t the best use of the limited living space, and that it was time to put it somewhere else.

That’s about as far as Yoshio thought things through, and so the panda has now taken up residence in the SoraNews24 office. Granted, there’s a lot of stuff that just sits around the office (like our vintage PaRappa the Rapper toaster), but because the panda is so big, it’s hard to ignore, and Mr. Sato felt like he had to find some sort of use for it, and out of that sentiment was born…

…the first-ever Running While Carrying a Giant Stuffed Panda Championship!

Naturally, Mr. Sato himself would be competing, and he invited/forcibly coerced three of his fellow SoraNews24 reporters to take part as well. Let’s take a look at the competitors and what might give them the edge over their rivals.

● Mr. Sato (pictured top left): A competitive pole dancer, Mr. Sato has surprisingly impressive levels of strength and flexibility. He’s also easily the craziest member of our staff, which seems like it should be an advantage for sports such as this one he just made up.
● Go Hatori (top right): While Mr. Sato likes to spend time on the pole, you can find Go in the ring, where he trains as an amateur kick boxer who recently won his first full fight. Go is also the tallest competitor in the field, giving him the longest stride.
● Takashi Harada (bottom left): While he doesn’t have the athletic training regimen of Mr. Sato or Go, Takashi has been making major strides in his personal health during the pandemic, and a successful five-kilogram (11-pound) weight loss diet has him lighter on his feet than he’s been in a long time.
● Ahiru Neko (bottom right): Ahiru Neko doesn’t follow any regular exercise program, but in addition to the slender physique he’s had for years, he’s also recently become the father to an adorable daughter, and that’s put a spring into his step that could translate into speed in the race.

OK, with our athlete (?) introductions out of the way, let’s discuss the rules of the Running While Carrying a Giant Stuffed Panda Championship. Each competitor will run the course one time, while carrying the panda, and whoever turns the fastest time will be the winner! Now, while local Running While Carrying a Giant Stuffed Panda leagues will all have their own course lengths, for the championship the distance is always…however long this random alley in Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood is.

▼ Gotta be this alley, otherwise your time isn’t official. Also note the massive turnout of spectators watching from their balcony.

And now, let the games begin!

As the originator/instigator of this event, Mr. Sato ran first, finishing with a time of…

…12.08 seconds! We’re honestly not sure if that’s fast or slow, since we’re pretty sure this is the first time anyone has ever timed this particular physical feat.

Next up, Go!

As you can see, Go opted to carry the panda at his side, instead of slung over his shoulder like Mr. Sato did. This strategy resulted in a time of…

…10.57 seconds! No sooner had Mr. Sato thrown down the gauntlet than he tasted defeat.

Running third, Takashi’s technique was to hold on to one arm of the panda, with the rest of the plushie draped onto his back, almost like he was in the middle of judo-tossing it.

In theory this would keep the panda out of the way of his hips and legs as he ran. We’re not sure whether or not that actually provided a net benefit, but in the end…

…Takashi’s time was 14.26 seconds, the slowest so far.

Finally, we come to Ahiru Neko and his technique of, well, whatever this is.

Creative as it may be, this form led to…

…a time of 14.87 seconds, the slowest of the day.

That means that the winner of the Running While Carrying a Giant Stuffed Panda Championship is Go Hatori! Go felt his heart swelling with pride, not just at this unprecedented accomplishment, but also at having climbed the mountain back to self-respect after having lost his shot at the SoraNews24 Office Wrestling championship belt.

However, technically Go is only the provisional Running While Carrying a Giant Stuffed Panda champion. Mr. Sato wasn’t able to rope everyone in the office into this day’s race, so he may have to organize another showdown involving such formidable contenders as Masanuki Sunakoma (who, like Go, is a tall guy with long strides), Seiji Yoshizawa (who burns with the energy of a thousand anime protagonists), and Yoshio himself, who would fill the competition venue with the intimidating atmosphere of his power to fire everyone.

If and when that happens, Go will have to defend his title at Championship Alley. For now, though, the bragging rights are all his.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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