As soon as the girls got to the edge of the festival, their eyes went glassy and they were drawn towards the tents: "face-painting", "hair station", "healthy snacks"... Oh, I had to do something quick or I was going to lose control! Suzanne was still up at the Arby's waiting for late-comers, and Lizzy was up there too, moving her car to a better location. There were several parents with me, but they were not clear on what to do either (they were supposed to check in with the main pavilion as "running buddies" and receive their gift packets). I was feeling like I should have read the instructional email prior to the event just a little more carefully.
We got everyone gathered around (the term "herding cats" came to mind several times) and once Suzanne and Lizzy got there, I relaxed a little bit. The pressure was no longer just on me. Problem was, the t-shirts we were given by the race coordinators said "Ask Me", so apparently I was supposed to know what was going on and what the procedure was! HA!
Time got closer to the start and I realized that we were all relatively squared away. We took pictures and laughed and used the bathroom one last time. At the start line, Suzanne led us in our two team chants: "Hey~ YOU! You go Girl! Sweet!" and the Bananas cheer and we all had our Awesome Hedgehogs capes on and we were psyched and ready!
Lizzy and I ran the course together and kept an eye on several of the girls. Everyone had running "buddies" chaperoning them (for safety); mostly parents. Proud parents ~ it was really cool to see. When we were almost to the finish (most of the way around the second lap of the event) Lizzy and I picked up the pace so that we could finish and get some photos of the girls as they finished.
While I was taking photos, I was transported back in time, to when I was a kid. These girls were such individuals, and such really cool kids! Some kids did the whole race fast, like I would have done when I was a kid. Some girls crossed the finish line hand in hand, with big smiles. Some kids crossed with their proud parents next to them. Some kids strolled along looking at the ducks in the pond and the blue skies above, dreaming.
While we were re-living our experience together at the finish line, the race and program director, Shelley, came over to us and said, (always enthusiastically), "Did you hear? You guys ~ the Awesome Hedgehogs (of Uintah Elementary) won the Spirit Award!" Which is an award given to the team with the most enthusiasm and team spirit. What?!? That was awesome! All of the girls got a special prize from the race director. In addition, they got finishers medals, their hair done in silly colors, their faces painted. And the satisfaction of finishing their first real 5k race (as third, fourth, and fifth graders). Awesome.
I'm so grateful that I was able to be a part of this wonderful program. It brought back so many good memories from my own childhood, and reinforced in me that we don't all need to be competitive and "winners", but that we really are all winners just for being out there. Sounds kind of cheesy, and maybe a bit of a sign of the times, but the fact that every kid is encouraged for being healthy and doing their best to be outgoing and positive is something that I think we really need a lot more of in our society.
I'm looking forward to the next session!
|Awesome Hedgehogs coaches: |
Mysterious Missy, Little Lizzy, Silly Suzie
|Molly and Aiden pre-race strategizing.|
|Groovy G ~ Georgia, with Lainy (below, with cape)|
Kinsley and Ally behind.
|Suzanne with the scary tooth guy.|
|Little Lizzy models a cape.|
|Kinsley (right, blue shirt) killing it down the finish chute.|
|Tory and mom bringing it home to the finish.|
|Georgia in the final strides to the finish |
with dad (behind) smiling on.
|M&M Emory and mom right before the finish.|
|Hannah and Mei Mei (blue shirts) hand in hand before the finish.|
Weird guy (on left) got hit by the sprinklers.
|Charlotte, our dreamer, all smiles with her mom coming in to the finish.|
|Awesome Ally and mom headed to the finish.|
|Jazzy J ~ Jocelyn bringing it home!|
|Narly Naina (left) and her cousin before they|
kicked in a sprint-finish.
|Aiden appears to be break-dancing with her mom to the finish.|
|Walk, don't run ~ our girl Bria almost there!|
|Coach Suzanne (with daughter Molly, hiding behind, bare feet)|
always positive and getting the last ones rounded up!