A Day at the Cross Country Races

It’s been a busy week. Mother’s Day last Sunday. My birthday the other day. And today Dani ran in the inter-schools cross country race that he had wanted so badly to qualify for.

I have just realised that I never wrote about that one – but never mind. Here is a quick recap. The school’s own cross country event took place last term and the first 8 from each year qualify for this inter-school event. Dani really wanted to qualify as some of his friends had the previous year. Long story short he finished 6th so qualified for today’s event. So here we are… The cross country event took place in Queens Park, a tree dotted sports area right next to Centennial Park in Sydney’s east.

Conditions and Age Group

There had been quite a lot of rain these past few days & nights and parts of the course were a little treacherous. Dani was running in a crappy pair of old running shoes with zero grip left on the soles. I mean, worn out! If this had been a sliding contest…But it wasn’t.

On the way to school he admitted that he felt quite nervous. He hadn’t bothered about it previously but this was race day. He had butterflies. No bad thing when you have a race to run…

For these events Dani competes in his birth year category rather than his school year. Better for him as he is really small for his school year. Even then he was still one of the smallest and (with a birthday in November) still one of the youngest among those born in the same year. But who’s making excuses already? On with the race…

The Race

Before the start of each race the starter went into a very long and boring explanation of the course and things that the kids should and shouldn’t do. I am surprised some of them never nodded off. I nearly did.

Lining up for the start of the race…

The race began and Dani got swallowed up near the back of the large field of runners. Out in front however, one of his school team immediately took the lead in the race for the first bend. Within the first quarter of the race he had blown the opposition out of the water and ended the race with a genuine sprint finish. The kid’s name is Theo and he is a real running talent. I swear, he could be representing Australia in the future. He is excellent over both short (sprints) and long distances. If there was a pentathlon/decathlon type of event just for running different distances that kid would excel. Come to think of it, maybe he is good at the field events also. I wouldn’t be in the least surprised to discover that he throws a better javelin than the 300 Spartans and jumps more sand than a kangaroo.  But anyway, he is certainly an excellent runner.

Then they all disappeared behind the trees only to reappear not far from the finish line. I took the much shorter path diagonally across the park to the finish area. The leaders soon emerged from the woods and sure enough Theo lead the charge showing a clean pair of heels in a sprint finish. Bloody hell that kid has some engine!

Not a million miles behind Dani emerged from the tree covered part of the course. He had clearly picked his way through many of the field. In the end he finished well in the top third. In fact 31st out of 113 runners. (A packed field right?) Quite a respectable finish I thought. But better than that; his time was over a minute faster than he ran in the school’s event to qualify for today. A new personal best time – or PB in sporting parlance – smashing his old one. Well there was only one other time to go on, but hey… it really is still a PB thing.

Meanwhile it is this sports reporter’s belief that he could have finished even higher up the field – with an even better PB – if he had not got caught near the back at the start. Also I am sure the really top runners take it very seriously whereas Dani’s idea of training for the event is just talking about it. When he finally has a good growth spurt and bothers to train for these things you never know. And those bloody tread-less running shoes! The winning boys had good footwear.

Ah….But that’s all ‘ifs buts and maybes’. Wudda. Cudda. Shudda. OK; it’s not like these are the musings of a proud old dad or something. As if! I’m just happy that he did as well as he did. Even happier that he enjoyed it all.

When interviewed after the race, Dani had this to say about his PB: “I really think I perform much better under pressure.”  Yes, he actually said that. Spoken like a true professional hahahaaa…

Best was yet to come…

Dani’s school left their best almost till last. In one of the final races – which was for the boys from Dani’s school year – they took first, second and fourth places. And apparently the kid who finished fourth had an injury and was otherwise expected to finish 2nd. It could have been a podium sweep!!

Meanwhile, Mikey had the race won at the first bend after a wild sprint start. That kid has a great engine and insane stamina. Another to watch out for in the future.

He demonstrates that steely-eyed demeanour top sportsmen/women possess. Eyes like an eagle; and his prey is the finish line. A really excellent performance. All in all a good day for the school. Well done to everyone who took part. Especially to the winners. And of course, to anyone who managed a new PB.

3 thoughts on “A Day at the Cross Country Races

Leave a Reply