The Yellow Brick Race
The winner is awarded the Silver Shoes of Oz, which are then worn by the matriarch of the family for the remainder of the year as a reminder of her children’s status—and their safety from the horrors of the Harvest.
Following the failure of the first Harvest of the Voices in the early days of Eden, the competitive peoples of Oz—Gillikins, Munchkins, Quadlings, and Winkies alike—debated about various methods for exempting certain families from the next year’s reaping. They eventually settled upon a road race along the beautiful but hard-to-run Yellow Brick Road. If someone could survive that trek, then surely they and their children were worthy to sit out that year’s Harvest.
The course runs from the heart of the Emerald City to the border The Ninth Empire of Oz shares with The Grand Duchy of the Garden. It begins at sunrise on the third Monday in April, with the elite runners crossing the finish line shortly before sunset on that same day.
Crossing through the Deadly Poppy Field, Mount Munch, and many other great obstacles, the course is regarded as a “suicide run” by the other peoples of Eden. But as Ozite children seem to be selected in the final round of the Harvest in greater numbers than the children of any other ethnic group in Eden, there is an implicit understanding throughout the world about why the Ozites might be so desperate.
The race is open to runners 18 and over from any of the four lands of Oz. However, only one entrant per family is allowed. This often leads to side competitions between family members over who will provide the family their best chance at exemption in a given year.