'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Next To Last In the Sack Race

To St Bees Village School Sports Day to support La V's younger daughter and, eventually, succumb to youthful encouragement to take part in the Fathers' Race (or in my case, I suppose, Surrogate Fathers' Race), an enterprise about which perceptive readers will already have an ominously bad feeling . . .

In the course of the afternoon it struck me that while the school sports we know and love - sack races, tugs of war, & so forth - are deeply peculiar activities that small children undertake with enormous glee, they're no less peculiar than those undertaken by adults, whether professionally or for pleasure. It's just that, thanks to some completely random circumstance of the social environment, they now occupy a quite different branch of the tree of sporting evolution. The Tug Of War was once an Olympic event (I believe that Great Britain were the last gold medalists, so presumably we can still claim to be Olympic Champions at something) but it is now the preserve of pub teams and regimental messes. Ponder why there is no Olympic Egg & Spoon Race. (And if you think that a peculiar question, you've clearly never watched synchronised swimming . . .).

So I watched the infant athletes doing preposterous things in the name of healthy compeition, and was struck by a number of thoughts -

  • Very small children leading a race will automatically stop dead in their tracks when faced with a winning tape. The more enterprising will attempt to run around it.
  • Our schools are clearly failing to teach children the rudiments of sack-race technique - many competitors jumped into their sacks and attempted to run inside them
  • Health & Safety culture is out of control - children were hurling blunt foam-rubber javelins in a completely haphazard fashion, often landing among the crowd of parents. There's nothing like the danger of impalement by five feet of cold steel to encourage sound javelin technique.

All of which was but shadow-play for the main event previously mentioned - the Fathers' Race. I should have realised that it would end badly when I lined up and noticed that everyone else was either (i) 10 - 15 years younger than me, (ii) wearing T-shirts with the words 'Ironman 2000' across the chest, or (iii) both. Summoning the middle-aged ghost of my sprinting technique, I managed to get off to a flier undetected by the Starter, but soon found myself overhauled. With five yards to go, third place looked inevitable. At this point, just as the finishing line was within reach, the upper half of my left hamstring gave up the struggle and decided that, wherever the rest of my body might be headed, it was making straight for the nearest physiotherapist . . .


Anonymous Jeremy said...

Seems that BBC2 had their cameras in the wrong place. After all everyone's seen Nick demonstrate his wide general knowledge before, but who has ever seen him run ?

11/7/06 11:29 am  
Blogger Nick said...

At present you'd be lucky to see me hobble . . .
Mind you, I'm told by others that I was lucky to escape so lightly. A friend claims to have seen Fathers' Races at school sports days disintegrate into full-on brawls on the running track . . .

11/7/06 1:00 pm  

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