I meant to post last night, but I just was too tired. I’m here today though!
Yesterday was our first race of the season and it was AWESOME! We were planning on a great turnout, but the actual turnout, by our school and overall, was record breaking! There were over 800 kids throughout the 9 categories. Our school had over 70 of those!
We put up our team’s tent just after nine and started taking attendance right away. A lot of people didn’t know where we were set up, so L and I spent quite a bit of time walking around between the finish area and the registration tent to find “our people”. The crowd was HUGE. I spent the whole hour and a half pre-race weeding through the crowd, talking to people, looking for school shirts, taking down names, and comparing my list with the coach.
The course walk through was cancelled due to the large amount of registrations. It takes a lot more time to register 800 than it does to register 400-500 (previous “normal” amount of runners). This made the first event the Tykes (5 and under) run. Lil Mr was running with my sister.
The Tykes run is 500m and usually punctuated with little ones yelling “No!” Yesterday was no different. Grammy and L met lil Mr and my sister at the halfway point to keep him going. I stayed at the halfway point to keep cheering the little ones on. We had 8 runners in this category, the most we’ve ever had (most parents don’t even realize the category exists).
When our school’s last little runner got to the halfway point with tear filled eyes and protests pouring from his lips, I couldn’t just stand there. I grabbed his other hand, pouring encouragements from my own lips, and ran with him and his mom to the finish. He was no longer crying when we came in and actually seemed proud that he did it. It was his first ever race and we’re hoping that pride at finishing will carry him through the rest that follow.
Next up were the Youth runners. As this is the Jr high category, our school didn’t have runners in this one. It was an awesome group though. This is usually the smallest group of runners but yesterday there were more Youth runners than I have ever seen at previous races. Yay to all of them for continuing to run!
After Youth started the Mosquito (P-2, 1k) category, divided into boys and girls. Ladies first! Lil miss was up and at the starting line. She was pumped for this race! Mosquitos is where most of our school’s runners fall, so we had a lot of other runners in this event too.
My sister ran with lil miss and I waited at the finish line. I not only cheered for our runners, but every one that came through. That’s a lot of yelling. Lil miss came through with a personal best and, though tired, all the girls came in happy.
T was up next in the Mosquito boys. He didn’t want an adult along for his run, he had a running buddy. I was once again at the finish line. T also came in with a personal best and finished less than ten seconds behind his (super fast) running buddy. Our school also took a medal in this race! About 100 runners and one from our school took 2nd place! I didn’t know until after the whole thing was over and we were headed back to the car, but L met T at the first turn and ran most of the race with him.
Peewees (gr 3/4, 1.5k) girls were on the starting line. Most of our peewees (both boys and girls) just moved up to this category so we were treading some new turf here. Our girls all came in in the first half and I was beginning to get hoarse from all the cheering. Three races left to go and we were doing awesome!
L’s was the next run and he didn’t want to go. He fought, argued and refused to go. I shoved a muffin at him, reminded him that this is what we were here for, shared the news about the mosquito victory, and finally prompted him to the start line. Peewees are not permitted coaches on the track so it was up to him to keep himself going. I ran along the sidelines beside him for the last 150m or so and he also came in with a personal best.
We had very few runners in the Bantam category (gr 5/6, 2k) but we weren’t leaving til the end. We had 6 girls and 3 boys for these races.
All our runners finished with good times, but the best part was the support our kids and parents showed here. As our weakest runners, we had last place finishes in both these races, but they were also our best finishes. Our bantam girls finished their race, turned back onto the track, and ran back in with the final runner. It was amazing and the crowds cheers were awesome to hear! Our boys included a physically handicapped grade 6 and a first time runner.
We set up four “support posts” along the track where a school parent would meet up with our handicapped runner and jog with him. I was at the 3/4 to final leg. He only needed to be warned once while I was with him to not “gun it” too soon. He finished the race with a personal best and not as out of breath ad he had been in previous races.
While I was at my post, L had headed back to the first turn again. He met up with our first time runner and ran the whole race alongside him! He warned this first time runner of obstacles coming up and straightaways that could be taken advantage of. When the first time runner was seen at the top of the hill, all our runners (that hadn’t left for home yet) met him for the last leg. The shouts of encouragement and the sound of pounding feet rang out throughout the park. That last runner of the day, that first race that he’s ever done, that support from all his peers, THAT is what “Storm the Park” is all about.
Over 800 runners, no DNFs (did not finishes), no major injuries (there was one badly scraped knee, not from our school), lots of personal bests, and kids supporting and encouraging each other….I’d say this was a perfect start to the season!
No matter how dark the day, the sun is always shining somewhere!