Monday, September 25, 2006

Baby They Were Born to Run

I've never been a fan of organized sports for kids, it seems they're more about the adults than the kids. Kids used to be able to get a neighborhood game together at the vacant lot but today they need a coach, a ref, a physical, a uniform, a field, a schedule, and a sideline support staff. And don't get me started on the fees.

So the point is I've never signed my kids to play sports but I do want them to be active and healthy so when Spencer and David showed an interest in cross-country running (no equipment woes there, all you need are a pair of shoes and some feet, and even that's been modified by the Kenyans) we were all over it.

Andrew ran track in college and has always loved running--he did a half-marathon this summer--so when Spencer said two years ago he wanted to run in the city-wide Elementary School Cross-Country Jamboree Andrew was not-so-secretly thrilled that perhaps his son was following in his footsteps. David, of course, wanted to do it too because Spencer was doing it, that ever-so-useful Big Brother affect.

On the day of the race came we were blown away when Spencer took second in his first race ever. David, too, placed well though being two years younger came in farther back, though still well among kindergartners. Shoot, I didn't even know my kids could run a mile. But what surprised me the most was my transformation into a cheering, full-blown, Soccer Running Mom.

Since then we decided to get into it as a family--what's good for the kids is good for the parents, right? And Anchorage is the Running Capital of the World. Or at least the northwest. Or maybe the arctic. But at any rate, we don't have sidewalks but bike trails--those we got. Best bike trails in the world (that's probably not an exaggeration) which are used year-round--cross-country skiing in winter, running and biking or running in summer.

Maybe it's the rugged, outdoors-ish, man-against-nature aspect that appeals to people, but there's always a race somewhere. Some more unusual--every 4th of July down in Seward is the Mountain Marathon runners do a three-mile course up and down Mount Marathon. There's a lot of sliding and skidding (the winners come back pretty scraped up) but it's exciting to watch.

So if you're a runner, Anchorage is your town and we discovered the family Tuesday Night Race. Each week in the fall a race is held at a different trail system around town and three different runs are marked out by local guest runners--Munchkin League (1-3K), Farm League (5-7K) and Lightning League(10K). You come, you pay a small entrance fee and then you run--usually over tree roots, up sand dunes and over mud puddles while jostling next to people with dogs, strollers and backpacks. Fun? Absolutely. And I've learned that even my four-year old can do a mile and a half.

Which brings me to last Saturday which was the annual Elementary School Cross-Country Jamboree. After running as a family each fall for almost three years now we were excited about how the boys would place.

Spencer's race had a false start before the officials had the course properly flagged--you've never seen fear until you've stared 180 charging boys in the eyes, the poor man changing the races flags was nearly stampeded into the mud--but it was all great. Fun being together and fun seeing the boys run. They both paced themselves well and had a great kick at the end, though it had rained Friday night, leaving the trail muddy enough to make them look like Dalmatians by the time they crossed the finish line.

Something about being together to support family members and being outdoors and the excitement of the race made for a great morning. Both boys did well, out of 190 boys K-2, David took 12th. Spencer, out of 173 took 11th in the grade 3-4 category. Evidently those long legs I gave them are good for something (if you'll allow some motherly bragging). With Andrew's speed and my length who knows what they'll do.


misha said...

I'm loving this blog. :) Yellow flower deliveries and tylenol chewing...very funny and lovely! But cross-country running? Now you have my heart!

allysha said...

they're cute boys! I'm not much of a runner myself, but I've had family who have done cross country. I'm always impressed by their stamina which I don't have!

P.S. how do you know about Divine Comedy? My husband was in it at the very beginning, so I'm curious!

jen said...

hey there,
i couldn't get to your email either - we are in love w/ the Cayo district - San Ignacio area near the Guatemala border. would be happy to talk