Today was the day of the event that I was meant to be running in before injuries led to a late scratching.
The 10km (6.2 miles) race was at 7am this morning and it would have been helpful if Carl and I hadn’t lingered at a dinner party until 1.30am the night before as having to rise at 5.45am wasn’t easy.
Once out of bed we were moving very slowly as Carl had the hangover from hell (told him not to have those glasses of port) and I was hobbling on the less injured of my two legs. When we arrived at the event all 800 or so competitors were already in a tightly packed position behind the starting line and it looked like Alfie was going to have to go right to the back of the pack. But I dragged him by the hand, slipped us under a barricade, went up to the runners in the very front row and said, ‘Excuse me, this little guy is the youngest competitor in this event; could you just move over and find a space for him?’ And they inched a little this way and that giving my little guy all the space he needed. Sorted.
I was barely out of the way when the race started and off they went. I tried to follow Alfie on his push bike but the seat was down too low for me and the chain came off the bike so it was a struggle until I found a passerby and asked him to render assistance. Bike repairs sorted I managed to catch up to Alfie and yelled out words of encouragement before peddling on to the next stage of the race where I’d wait for him to pass by me again. I have to say he did seem to make jogging look fairly effortless.
After yelling encouragement at the 9th kilometre where there was a steep incline, I hurried on to the finish line and waited for him. He crossed the line in 55.58 minutes taking around 10 minutes off his time from when he ran the course with me.
The race announcer seemed very surprised to see such a wee wisp of a lad cross the finish line in under 60 minutes and was super-impressed with Alfie’s effort and interviewed him on the spot. There’s every chance you might hear an overly-enthusiastic mother yelling out, ‘Well done’.
After I had recovered from all the excitement, Alfie went on all the rides and activities the event had to offer. How he had the energy to go up and down the rock climbing wall is beyond me.
Then Pat Farmer, ultra-marathon runner, adventurer and ambassador of Mini-Mos 2013 heard that an eight-year old boy had completed the race in less than 60 minutes. He said he wanted to meet that little boy. Alfie, with pizza remnants all around his mouth hurried over to where Pat Farmer was. This incredible man who ran from the North Pole to the South Pole running the equivalent of two marathons a day for the best part of a year, shook Alfie’s hand and congratulated him. He said, ‘Congratulations. Well done and I’d like to give you something’. He presented Alfie with a copy of his book, Pole to Pole and wrote the following inscription in it: ‘To Alfie, Never ever give up on your dreams. Best wishes from Pat Farmer’.
And he spent some time showing Alfie some of the pictures in his book like the time his son was able to visit and what the North Pole looks like and the moment he reached the pole at the bottom of the world. Alfie was mesmerised and then Pat said to him, ‘Alfie, I believe you’re destined for greatness.’ What powerful words to speak into the life of an eight-year old.
We thanked Pat very much then it was time for Alfie to have a few more rides, re-fuel on more food from the stalls, then head home where ever since, he has had his head in Pole to Pole.
It was a wonderful day and I realised Alfie didn’t need me jogging beside him – he’s perfectly capable of running his own race.
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