My son participated in his first cross country race yesterday. He is a fast sprinter and loves running. However, he did not prepare at all. Actually that was mostly my fault as I completely forgot about it.
We trudged to the school field where the race was being hosted and I prayed for the rain to hold off, it was already really muddy. There were loads of children and adults milling around on the soggy field and I was thankful that I had decided to wear flat boots instead of my heels (I do tend to favour fashion in lieu of common sense). I pinned his number onto his red t-shirt with two mismatched safety pins.
'Mum,’ my son complained. ‘I look like a wally with this number pinned on. We’re not supposed to pin it on, we’re supposed to use Cellotape.’
I frowned at him. ‘It would fall off.’
‘Yeah, but,’ he continued, ‘the teacher wants to use them again.’
‘What?’ I asked. ‘This paper number?’
My son nodded. ‘Yeah I look stupid like this.’
‘You do not look stupid.’ I handed him his track top. ‘Put this on.’
‘We’re not supposed to wear anything over our t-shirts!’ he wailed.
I rolled my eyes at him. ‘It’s to keep you warm while you wait.’
‘Yeah, but we’re not allowed.’
‘It’ll cover up the number and the pins,’ I pointed out smugly.
He struggled into it as we squelched our way over to the post with the school name on. There were no other children from his school in sight. Eventually, one of his teachers stumbled upon us and pointed us to where we were supposed to be. At the start line of course, although it was near impossible to establish from a distance where the beginning actually lay, what with all the ropes here, there and everywhere. My son handed me his track top and was swallowed up by the mass of excited children. I manoeuvred my way through to wish him luck but he was already lost to me by this time, engrossed with chattering to his mate from school. Parents and spectators were herded into a containment area to be able to view their child.
Then, after a brief stamping of their feet, the racers were off. Their small trainer clad feet hastily speeding across the soggy ground. The race was 1.5k so the children’s cheeks grew redder and their pace lessened. At times I thought my son was going to stop and I willed him on, he would regret it if he gave up. He passed us for the first time and my husband yelled encouragement to him and I grinned like an inane idiot. The second time he passed I could see him flagging so shouted to him.
‘Go on!’ I shouted. ‘You can do it!’
My son mustered a tiny smile and forced himself onward. Then there was the home straight which was, luckily, on a minor downhill and he propelled himself past several other racers with a burst of energy and filtered into the counting lane. He was given a small medal and a bottle of water.
‘Yuck,’ he said when I reached him. ‘I think I can taste blood in my mouth.’
‘Drink,’ I told him. ‘It’s not blood, it’s just because you’re worn out. Well done.’
‘We’ll have to wait to find out where you came,’ my husband said.
My son shook his head. ‘No, they told me already. I came twelfth.’
‘Out of how many?’ I asked.
My son shrugged. ‘Fifty.’
We left the field and stomped our muddy feet back to the car. My husband and I told my son how well he had done, especially considering that it was his first time but my son was not so convinced. His friend had been four places ahead of him. I told him that he’ll have to practise on the running machine at home. The next one is in June, plenty of time for practise.