Two weeks ago I was torn between doing the Cannock MTB race or a Duathlon in Thetford Forest, but in the end I decided to go and see my nephews Charlie (9) and Harry (6) do their last race of the season at their local club. It was Mothers Day too so another good reason!
Neither Charlie or Harry knew that I was coming to watch them, so when I stood on the start line and bellowed their names, they looked round with a slightly embarrassed grin that their ‘Mad’ uncle Ian had come to watch. Which made me smile too.
I ran off down to the first corner to cheer them on, where my brother (their father) had already positioned himself strategically at the bottom of a big hill.
Their Mum was at the top of the hill ready to give encouragement too! Not that we Wakefields are competitive at all!!
Bang ! the starters gun goes off and a sea of children come sprinting towards us, and believe me for under 9’s they are sprinting! 2:48 mins for 800 m is sub 6 minute miles, and I remember how painful 6 minute miles were.
Charlie came round the corner in second place and looked comfortable, the boy in front had beaten him before but not in the current season. Not far behind was little Harry in about 5 th place (12 secs faster than Charlie at the same age), a real talent for future years.
The next time I saw them, Charlie was coming into the finishing straight and had a clear lead. I was so proud and shouted to him to try for the course record (He’d only missed it by 3 secs in the last race). He ran strongly and finished a comfortable winner, but I couldn’t help wonder if he’s got the record?
Not far behind him (about 30 secs) came little brother Harry, whose style is currently a mixture between stumbling and running which does make me smile but probably it’s probably because he’s going so fast. A great result for both boys.
I was pleased to find that Charlie had gained the Club Record for the run at 2:48 mins 2 secs quicker than the previous record which had stood for over 10 years. He was only 1 sec outside the all comers record of 2:47 mins. Now he is at the end of his age group so no more chances for the record, guess he will have to leave it for little brother Harry.
Can’t help thinking how well they’re doing and how I never won a race in my life but am still trying at 44! Will they still be going at my age? Or will they have given up and discovered drugs, rock n roll and fast cars? Who knows but I hope they have the habit of exercise for life.
Later whilst at the prize giving I met two people who had and did inspire me, the first was a 75-year-old lady called Mary Holmes who was still competing at Cross Country, and looked very sprightly too, I wished her well and hoped I would be still going at 75.
The second was an athlete who will forever have his name etched into my memory. In my teenage years whilst competing for various clubs, one boy called Darren Mead from Thetford had dominated all the local races. He had gone on to represent Great Britain at the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Switzerland (1986) and gained a No 1 ranking for 10 miles for U 17’s (1987). I had often wondered what had become of this talented boy? Well here he was at the prize giving with his son, who had obviously inherited some of his talent. My sister-in-law introduced me and we reminisced about how long ago it was we used to compete, and although he said he was still fit he appeared not to have competed for some time, hope maybe we’ll see him run again next year.
Well done to my Sister in Law Caroline Wakefield who was second Senior Lady in the series and Charlie Wakefield who won the Under 9’s series, not forgetting little Charlie who will surely win many events in years to come, and even if he doesn’t his ‘Mad’ uncle Ian will be proud as long as he does his best.
Whilst there I thought it would be great to have a go in the mens race, and was pleased with my 29 mins over 6.5 km considering the lack of running I do these days.
Video of Charlie and Harry 2 years ago in the same race!
Update – on 26 March 2012 Charlie became County Champion for under 9’s at the County Showground!