It’s the once a year event that has me cheering from up and down the sidelines. This week was Alfie’s first week back at school after the Easter holidays and three days in, he had his school’s annual cross-country event.
As you may know, Alfie loves to run and because he’s not a sprinter, the longer the race the better. The problem with this race is that it isn’t all that long and is over and done with in less than 10 minutes.. It’s just 2kms (1.25 miles) and so it can be run as a sprint. But, while not a speedster, Alfie has plenty of endurance.
Before the race I had a chat to Alfie and told him if he wanted to do well he’d have to run fast as some boys would consider 2kms a sprint. I said, ‘And at the start of the race you can’t just stand there while everyone takes off sprinting; you have to run off too. Why give everyone else such a headstart?’ (And I had to say this because after the starter’s gun goes off he tends to loiter while everyone takes off in front of him).
And I said, ‘There’s one boy that’s been training for this race for about four months. At the start of the race he’s going to take off sprinting. You don’t want him to gain too much distance from you so you’re going to have to try to keep up with him’.
Alfie said, ‘It’s okay mum, I’ll just come second then’. See what I’m up against? I’m always hoping he does actually have a killer-instinct or a competitive-edge but if he does, he’s burying it.
The day of the race was a perfect autumn day with clear blue skies and there was still a little warmth in the sun’s rays. All competitors had to wear their house colours and Alfie’s in the blue house which is great because that’s the colour of the school uniform so he just put on his sport’s uniform. Sorted. Alfie’s race was the first race of the day. I gave him a few puffs of ventolin as he gets a bit wheezy and then all the Under 9 runners lined up in their starting positions.
The good thing about the race is it’s two laps around the inside of the oval then two laps around the outside of it. He’d have to pass me three times so three times I’d be able to yell at him (encourage him), to pick up his pace.
Off went the starter’s gun (there’s no actual gun because that’s not PC), and everyone bolted out of the starting blocks (there weren’t any of those either), except for Alfie who was out for a stroll. By the end of the first lap 75% of the competitors were in front of him. As he cruised past me I yelled, ‘Pick up your pace’ and ‘Get a move on’, but I couldn’t watch; it was too painful to see him running a race in cruise control. Then a friend grabbed my arm and told me to be of good faith. As the bolters started to tire, Alfie was one by one, overtaking them.
By the time he finished the second lap and was heading out of the gates to run his first lap around the outside of the oval, he had come forward to be in about 10th position. ‘Keep going; don’t slow down; you can do it’, I yelled enthusiastically.
I watched him run around the outside of the oval and after he’d climbed the hill he was in third position. As he started running his final lap of the race he overtook the boy in front of him so he was now in second position.
All the way around that final lap he was gaining on the boy who had led the race from the start and yes, it was the boy who’d spent the last four months in training. Alfie never slowed down and as the race progressed he just ran at a faster and faster pace. He finished in second place and barely looked puffed.
The first six place-getters are off to the zone cross country so we have two weeks to train for that event.
I really loved watching Alfie run. And he took us on an emotional roller coaster as he started at the back of the pack and step by step and one by one, he inched his way to second position.
After that stellar effort, I let him have a ‘lunch order’ – butter chicken curry!
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