I spent Friday serving as the starter at this year's Elementary District Track Meet. Armed with a VERY loud starters pistol, I spent 6 hours asking runners to take their marks and set before sending them off with a resounding bang. Weather and incomplete track renovations again conspired to move our normally outdoor event inside to the Pomeroy Sports Centre (PSC). The PSC, is a winter sports complex consisting of a speed skating oval, two hockey rinks and an inside walking track. Thanks to the cooperation of city staff, and the tireless efforts of the elementary sports committee, and a few key administrators and volunteers, this huge event, involving over 400 students and consisting of literally hundreds of running, throwing and jumping events, came off without a hitch, on time and with lots of excitement and drama for everyone.
As the starter, I get a close up view of all the action at the track. Track roots run deep in my family. I've been a runner, coach or official in the sport ever since being introduced to distance running by Mr. Hardisty, my grade 7 teacher, back in 1972! All three of my own children participated in the SD 60 Elementary meet. That they continue to be active adults enjoying running as a lifelong fitness activity is due in no small way to the opportunities they enjoyed as student athletes. Participaction Canada encourages all Canadians to "Get out and Get moving" and events such as our district meet, help our students develop healthy life styles.
In any sporting competition there are always winners. By the end of the meet it was easy to spot the students who had done well, with all their ribbons proudly pinned to their shirts. Even more impressive for me however, was the determination and courage shown by the runners who finished further back in the fields. Like anyone, I enjoy a tightly contested race, and the thrill of victory, but what I truly respect is the unflagging efforts of those who are destined to finish near the back of the pack.
I once had a coach who taught that a race wasn't official till the last runner crossed, so every runner had a responsibility to do their best, right to the very end. As a runner, I've had my share of success but I've also been last a few times too, so I know what it takes to keep going long after the leaders are done. Track is great that way; most spectators appreciate an honest effort and will applaud the efforts of every runner whether they are first, or last. And finishing has its own rewards - determination is a valuable life skill that builds and displays character. People who run know just getting out there is a victory, and finishing means we are still ahead of all the people who never started.
So hats off to everyone who made this year's track meet a success. Athletes, volunteers, organizers and spectators; everyone who participated comes away a winner!