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Stretch run

[ 2009-02-20 10:32]     字号 [] [] []  
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Stretch run

Reader question:

Does "stretch run" mean "拉锯战", as in "Stretch run starts here"?

My comments:


"Stretch run" simply means the final part of a long race or, by extension, any other undertaking or endeavor. Obviously, the final part is crucial – as the saying goes: all's well that ends well.

Anyways, stretch run is originally a sporting term from distance running. In a standard 400-meter track, for instance, the last 100 meters or so of straight track is often called the final stretch, or the final straight, meaning the last stretch of straight track before touching the line.

Hence the term. Stretch run is often used metaphorically, though, referring to the crucial last moments of a hard-fought job, be it a competition, an election, a war or what have you.

However, "拉锯战" - a wild guess, I suppose - misses the mark. As I have often pointed out in this column, I can best help you via the assistance of examples. So here they are, real examples culled from the media (explanations in brackets are mine):

1. The Rockets kick off the stretch run of the season tonight by hosting the New Jersey Nets. At 32-21, they are right in the middle of the playoff standings in the Western Conference. The Rockets are fifth, a half-game out of fourth.

(Stretch run here refers to the second half of the long NBA regular season, which lasts from late October to late April)

- Examiner.com, February 17, 2009.

2. His grandmother's illness has turned Obama's stretch run for the White House into a bittersweet moment. He is leading John McCain, in most polls, yet also faces the possible loss of the most influential person in his life while he was growing up.

(Here, stretch run means the last few days before the general election, obviously crucial to either candidate.)

3. Three days later, he is back in New York for the stretch run. Wednesday before last was the first full stage rehearsal, the first chance for the orchestra and singers to run through "Gatsby" together while scenery and lighting people checked to see how close they were to being ready. At Harbison's urging, they've re-created Gatsby's world through impressionistic, dreamlike touches–billowing curtains in Daisy's mansion, or a single car on a hoist in the Wilson garage–instead of the imposing sets favored by old-time operas.

(Here, as explained in text, stretch run refers to the run-up to rehearsal of "Gatsby", an opera adaptation of Great Gatsby, the 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald.)

- Green Light for an American Dream, LA Times, December 19, 1999.




About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.