A Race Well Run

by - October 3, 2010

Flesherton Split Rail Festival
Cross Country Race
Saturday, October 2

We arrive at 8:45 am.  The sky is grey.  The ground is damp.  Last night we prayed away the rain.  So far so good.  Zander's excited.  It's the first race of the season.  He's a year older now and that means he has to run two kilometers instead of one.  I'm nervous.  He's not.  He's wearing his Spruce Ridge Timber Wolf jersey and I help him pin his number - 508 - to his chest.

I do the walk-through with him.  It seems desperately long.  He's looking for shortcuts but I know he's joking - he wouldn't actually cheat - he doesn't have that in him.  The trail is slick with old rain.  Our shoes get muddy and the back of my jeans are wet almost up to my knees.  Zander thinks the trail must actually be ten kilometers but the idea of quitting - of not even trying - doesn't enter his mind.  I, on the other hand, am picturing tears and limping.

Over and over I tell him it's not about winning but about doing his best.

"And pacing myself!" he says.  And then, just in case, he asks, "but if I do win could we go to a hotel with a pool to celebrate?"

The people behind us laugh.

"How about hot chocolate no matter how you do?" I offer.

"Fine.  Are there bears in here?"

"No, Zander, they're are no bears in here."

"How do you know?  What if there are?"

"Sing while you're running."

"Yeah right - you're weird."

He is racing against 69 other boys his age.  He takes off with a smile but doesn't waste the time it takes to wave at us as he passes like he did last year.  He's invisible to us then - gone in the forest, swallowed by trees and grasses.  I have time to cross the football field and find a bathroom in the foreign Grey Highlands halls.  The first runners are visible when I come back out.  I line up along the finish line to wait for him.

When he appears along the path he's going slow but steady.  His cheeks are flushed.  His legs seem heavy.  But he's doing it.  And he finishes proudly.  59 out of 70.  Completely happy with the green participant ribbon.  Sated by a huge hot chocolate with real whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.  And saying confidently that yes, he would like to run in the Rail Land Cross Country Run in Hanover on Wednesday and could I please come and cheer for him again?

And I say, "certainly!"

What a surprise that any child of mine would have an interest in anything remotely resembling the sport of running.

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  1. He should try running with less clothing... he is way over dressed... Shorts t- shirts. Clothes on at the finnish line.

  2. Thanks, I'll let him know that it's coming from a experienced runner. He seems to think I don't know what I'm talking about : )


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