Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to discuss the history of the Limers, an inaugural team of the Marble League which will not appear in the 2020 edition of the championship. Read on to find out why…
The Limers hail from the Adriatic Coast in southern Europe, and got their name from two sources—the vast reserves of limestone that are nestled slightly inland of the Gulf of Tartufo, and their favorite dessert, cassata, which is traditionally served with limes on top. The Limers began racing in Sotsevsa, a city across the sea to the southeast of the gulf known for its philosophical teachings in ancient times, as well as its Syndesmarble, an ancient marble racing tournament which is still celebrated as a yearly tradition in the city. One year, the four performed so well that they caught the attention of a marble sports aficionado named Greg Woods. The team was approached soon after by Woods, who invited the team to join his Fruit Circuit troupe, and the team accepted.
The Limers were one of the first teams in the Fruit Circuit when it began touring in 2004, alongside now-inactive teams like the Strawberry Strudels, Boysenberry Ballers, and Grape Nuts. They ended up outlasting these teams because of their persistence. According to Sublime:
“Much of the marblebase has asked us why we’re still going. Why do we keep trying every time that we do badly in an event or a season? It’s because we love this craft. We love marble sports because it gives us a purpose to be active and to make a difference in the world. We want to keep doing that for as long as we possibly can, not just for our fans, but for ourselves.”
The O’rangers, Raspberry Racers, and Mellow Yellow eventually joined the Fruit Circuit, and all three teams proved to be challenging for the Limers to shake. When the 2016 Marble League transfer spots from the Fruit Circuit were announced, the stakes rose even higher, particularly against the Raspberry Racers. Upon joining the circuit, the Racers quickly became rivals with the Limers due to their geographic proximity to each other and their contrasting team colors. The rivalry between the two teams is one of the most competitive in marble sports history, let alone in Marble League history.
“The Limers are the reason that we did not qualify for the 2016 Marble League,” Razzy remarked, almost snidely. “During the third-to-last race, Slimelime rolled into me right out of the starting gate, killed my momentum, and blocked me from moving to the front. He finished in second. I finished in sixth. If I had the momentum I needed to burst forward, I would’ve at least been on the podium for that race. But he got all the glory…and I got nothing.”
When asked, Slimelime disregarded the claim: “I maybe felt a slight nudge out of the starting gate, but I didn’t intend to block anyone out of the gate. One, that’s really poor sportsmanship. Two, I wouldn’t have put it past Razzy to nudge me back, and either way, she would not admit to it.”
Ultimately, the Limers came out on top, winning the Fruit Circuit in its final year and qualifying for the 2016 Marble League along with Mellow Yellow and the O’rangers. The team entered the tournament with honor, knowing that the Marble League was the modern-day realization of the ancient Syndesmarble tournament.
Sublime, Lemonlime, Jellime, and Slimelime entered the 2016 Marble League with high hopes that were soon deflated by subpar performances. The Limers went scoreless in the first half of the tournament except for the second event, the Relay Race, in which they earned two points in sixth place. The Limers’ second half proved more fruitful for the team, save for two more scoreless events, and produced a bronze medal in Quartet Diving, but the team finished the season in a disappointing fifteenth place. In fact, the Limers would have tied with the Pinkies for dead last, had the Pinkies not been disqualified in the final event.
“We were admittedly surprised by the circumstances. We expected the Marble League to reward performance with solely medals. The points system threw us off not necessarily because it was there, but because of how punishing it was. If you earned any place lower than eighth, tough luck. If you got seventh, you could’ve gotten eighth and gotten the same amount of points.” Lemonlime rolled her self. “It made no sense, and we were determined to change it. We appealed to Jelle, and it was done.”
The offseason brought other substantial changes for the Limers. They began a rigorous training session in the steep cliffs of limestone near Tartufo, and also began building a training center just outside the city. Jellime left the team early in the offseason to become an advisor for the Syndesmarble, and was replaced swiftly by Goolime. He declined to comment on whether his leave was influenced directly by the Limers’ poor performance in the 2016 Marble League.
The Limers entered the 2017 Marble League Qualifiers with a lot to prove in a short amount of time. The team scored nothing during the Relay Race but picked up enough points in the remaining three events to qualify for the main tournament in twelfth place, four points ahead of the Kobalts and Snowballs, who both failed to qualify. The Limers became one of twelve teams that would be appearing in their second straight Marble League Championship.
In the 2016 Marble League, the Limers went scoreless in half of the events. In the 2017 Marble League, the Limers went scoreless in zero of the events. The Limers placed in the bottom half during the first two events before earning a silver medal in the infamous Fidget Spinner Collision event. The team finished in the top half over the next four events, earning a bronze medal in the Relay Run, demonstrating a significant improvement from Qualifiers. The Limers peaked in the standings at second place after the Relay Run, and remained strong at third place after Block Pushing.
Unfortunately, the Limers did not perform as strongly in the latter half of the season as they had in 2016. The Limers placed in the bottom half of the standings for every event except for Block Pushing and Steeplechase, notably around ninth to fourteenth place. As such, the Limers fell from the top half of the standings with grace, and finished the season in tenth place, just one place above its starting position in the 2017 Marble League. Despite their slowdown, the Limers were still happy with their season. Goolime noted,
“The growth that I have seen this team endure ever since I joined is nothing short of astounding. I’m so proud of how far they’ve come since 2016, and I’m lucky to be a part of it this year. There is nowhere else I’d rather be.”
After a rigorous offseason of training, the Limers were invited to the 2018 Marble League Draw in the Arctic Circle, and happily chose to attend. When they arrived, they were greeted with a surprise, for better or for worse: the Raspberry Racers were also in attendance. Greg Woods introduced them in the video, stating:
“They have a long history going back with the Limers, the two of them, so ideally they would like to be in separate groups, although some might say they want to be in the same just to knock each other out before they even make it…”
The two teams ended up in the same qualifying group.
“We were only separated by the Shining Swarm, but it felt like we were eons apart,” Sublime mused. “We reached out to the team after they failed to qualify in 2016, but they had already disbanded and wanted nothing to do with marble sports. We never thought we would see them again in tournament, let alone in the Marble League.”
The return of the Raspberry Racers threw the Limers for a loop not only in concept, but more importantly in tournament. The Limers got two silvers and one bronze, but they could only edge ahead of the Racers in Curling and the Halfpipe. At the end of Qualifiers, the Raspberry Racers qualified for the 2018 Marble League in second with 22 points. The Limers qualified in fourth with 21 points.
The Fruit Circuit was back.
“I was new to the team that year, and even I could tell that the Raspberry Racers had never performed like this before,” Limelime admitted. “They had a drive like no other team to win the Marble League. And they didn’t in 2018, but we all know that they eventually would.”
“2018 felt off from the beginning of Qualifiers. Even if we didn’t show it then, we felt it,” Slimelime added. “We were definitely showing it by the second event.”
The 2018 Marble League resembled much of the Limers’ inaugural season. The team scored no points in a quarter of the events, and placed in the top half in only a third of the events. The Limers started the season in tenth place, but by end of the Snow Rally, the seventh event, the team had been in last place in the standings at the end of all but three events.
“It became really clear to us that we were not going to win the Championship, regardless of whether it was mathematically possible or not. We did not have the gusto in us to do it. But we also didn’t want to take last place. I certainly didn’t,” remarked Sublime. He glanced at his gold medal, which was enclosed in a small display case at the Limers’ training facility. “We had taken last in the Snow Rally, and the team voted on me to do the Snowboard Cross. They said that they had a funny feeling that I would do well. And somehow—somehow, they were right.”
In a surprise turnaround for the Limers, Sublime eased his way down the course during the heat, finishing barely a second behind the Raspberry Racers, and dominated during the final, finishing two seconds before Anarchy from the Balls of Chaos narrowly edged ahead of Bolto from the Thunderbolts. The result was the Limers’ first ever gold medal, and a pathway out of the basement of the standings for the rest of the 2018 Marble League.
The team performed in the middle of the pack throughout the remainder of the season, save for a last-place finish in Ice Hockey, which surprised fans due to the Limers’ silver medal in Collision the year before. The Limers finished the tournament in fourteenth place with the same amount of points as Mellow Yellow but a medal to edge above their fellow Fruit Circuit competition. However, the Limers were more focused on the performance of another Fruit Circuit team.
“The Raspberry Racers beat us in every single event except for the 5-Meter Ice Dash and the Snowboard Cross,” Keylime said without hesitation. “When I joined the team as coach in the offseason, I made sure that my team knew that. The fans wanted a rivalry, but we gave the other team the championship.”
In the 2018 offseason, the Limers placed second in the 100m Water Race, above the Raspberry Racers in thirteenth, and ascended to the finals of the Amazing Marble Race against the Raspberry Racers, O’rangers, and Savage Speeders. The team’s drive ground to a halt, and the Limers placed fourth with only twenty-five points scored. The Raspberry Racers won the tournament with forty-three points scored, and became known as a strong contender for the 2019 Marble League. The Oceanics were revealed as the hosts for the season, denying the Limers’ bid to host.
“Things were not looking good. My team’s morale had really fallen over the course of the past year. That hosting bid would have done a lot to raise their spirits, and it also would have done a lot for the Marble League as a whole. We were in contact with Jellime and the whole Syndesmarble advisory board to make it something really special.” Keylime sighed. “Things were getting much better for the team in the last few weeks leading up to Qualifiers. Their form was starting to look much like their 2017 selves. I was hopeful.”
The Limers remained in a safe position in the standings for much of Qualifiers, boosted by a second-place finish in Block Pushing. However, the Underwater Race changed their fate for the worse. Slimelime finished in nineteenth and earned only one point, bringing the Limers’ total number of points to thirty-five. The Chocolatiers finished in fourth and earned fifteen points, bolstering them three points above the Limers and earning the final qualifying spot for the 2019 Marble League. Had Slimelime been four milliseconds faster, the Limers would have qualified.
Granted, the Limers’ presence in Qualifiers was soured when their fans started throwing debris into the Relay Race arena, disrupting the flow of the event and allegedly blocking Team Primary from finishing the race (an allegation that the JMRC denies). Needless to say, the fans’ actions in the stands were reckless, and Goolime agreed:
“We do not condone actions like that—in fact, these types of things distract us too. We’re marble athletes and we’re focused on that—we’re trying to do the best we can. That’s all.”
The Limers did in fact finish in third in that heat, and twelfth place overall in that event. Had their fans not disrupted the flow, the end result could have changed. Instead, the team missed out on its first Marble League ever. Here’s what Lemonlime had to say about that:
“I know what the fans are thinking. ‘Wow, Limers finally didn’t qualify. They’ve always been in the bottom half of the standings. They didn’t deserve to be in the Marble League.’ And they have every right to feel that way. Our response is this, plain and simple: we’ve enjoyed the opportunity to compete in these tournaments. We’ve loved to do what we do, no matter how well we’ve placed. It’s been far from perfect, but it doesn’t stop here. Right now, it hurts. But trust me when I say that we’re going to do everything we can to keep pushing. Thank you to the fans. We’ll see you soon.”
The Limers were ready to take a hiatus from training, but they were pleasantly surprised to hear the news that there would be a Marble League Showdown that would give the unqualified teams of the 2019 Marble League a chance to compete and prove their worth for the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers. The Limers immediately regrouped and began training again, rebuilding their team mentally, emotionally, and physically. The more they spent time together, the more optimistic they felt. As the weather got warmer, they returned to the Cliffs of Tartufo to train there without any disruption from the happenings of the world.
They were finishing their dinner with cassata when the sixteenth and final event of the 2019 Marble League was on television, and watched silently as the Raspberry Racers secured the Championship. The event was followed by a lengthy news recap, which covered the Racers’ season in depth and also discussed predictions for the Showdown. After some time, in which the cassata stayed on the table, uneaten, the waitress rolled over to the table and asked the Limers,
“Are you finished with your dessert yet? Or would you like some raspberry syrup to sweeten the dish?”
Needless to say, the Limers entered the 2019 Marble League Showdown under immense pressure from the marblebase—fans that were flocking back from the Green Ducks, fans that had virtually no hope in the Limers, and fans in the middle of it all, who hoped that the Limers would at least get by.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but not one of the 2,879 words that compose this RetRollSpective could equate to the emotions that Limers fans felt when the Limers finished in last during the 2019 Marble League Showdown. One of the fans that was banned from the Seven Seas Stadium expressed their disconcert,
“I guess I understand how the Oceanics fans feel, but at least they got to be a part of the Marble League Championship. We won’t even get a chance to be in the Championship until 2021, and that’s if we can score in more than half of the events, and score well. I have a right to be angry.”
The Limers declined to comment on the Showdown and its aftermath, although we can only imagine that they are beyond heartbroken. In RetRollSpective, the Limers are a team that have done better in earlier years, especially prior to the Marble League. The rise of newer teams, notably the Raspberry Racers, have put into question the Limers’ form and overall capabilities. Nevertheless, there is something to be said about the team’s resilience, and after hitting rock-bottom in this year’s Showdown, we can only hope that they will come back stronger than they have ever been, perhaps even in the first season of Marbula One, which Sublime and Limelime accepted their invitation to in December 2019. Best of luck to the Limers in the 2020 Marble League Showdown, keep on rolling!