The Cutest Kid Who Ever Raced
After my dumb decision to conquer a camel back half marathon course with literally no hill training last weekend, I (wisely) decided to avoid the temptation of the Broncos 7K and the inaugural Fortitude 10K in Ft. Collins as a complement to the nearby Bolder Boulder.)
Wanting to satisfy my "run hunger" (I just made that up...you can use the hashtag #runhunger) I decided to volunteer in my old neighborhood at the Highlands Ranch Wildcat Mountain Trail race ironically at the site of the "We Need a Miracle" game at Rocky Heights Jr. High (see footnote on "Miracle.")
I showed up on Saturday thinking I would "man" a water station, or perhaps hand out medals then learned our Runner's Roost team would be chaperoning the younger runners out on the course. Gulp. That seemed like a lot of responsibility. I quickly opted out of the 10-11 year old group with good reason as the lead runner bolted out like a shot out of a cannon. I'd learn later that a "side stitch" intervened with the young man out front and they settled down to a manageable pace.
I decided that the 5-7 year olds would be fun and it wound up being the largest group heading out. As we started to huddle around the starting area, the small crowd of bright-eyed kids were surrounded by even brighter-eyed moms, dads, and grandparents. I had a teammate who was a veteran mom and we started reving the kids up with
"who's raced before?"
"Who wants to win?"
"Who wants to have fun!?"
|Future Marathon Runners|
More than a few parents shared, "this is his/her first race." All of a sudden, I was starting to feel the pressure. Even grandpa (of Micah) asked if I'd watch over his grandson. Parts of the little guy looked the part. His bib was in the front, and not on the back. He had a wrist water bottle that was curiously riding the back of his hand--but he looked legit! He was wearing his favorite cap (Star Wars)--the force was strong with this little one.
|Striking a championship pose|
His run style was (let's call it) unique but incredibly cute. It was kind of a shuffle of sorts with arms close to the hips and hands not rising above his tiny belt line. As we took command of the end of the pack, and with a giant smile on his sun-glassed face, I decided, I'd try and help him a bit.
"Micah, let me show you a couple tips."
"Okay," Micah replied.
"Pretend like you're punching someone," I suggested.
"Oh no, I can't punch people," Micah emphatically replied.
(me...reeling) "Of course you can't, pretend like you're punching a balloon then."
He implemented the technique with a bit of a "twist" dance move, but he was moving more efficient while still having fun. Somewhere near the turnaround, there was another small young girl crying. She was also in our herd. I asked what was wrong, and she replied, "I'm tired." I decided to pick her up and carry her for a bit until I found my teammate and mother. (I"m sure I totally broke all kinds of USATF rules around assisting athletes in a race.)
My teammate and veteran mom took over with the young girl while I focused on getting Micah to the inflatable finish line. As we approached, I encouraged him even more and said, when we get close, you have to run as fast as you can. (My favorite thing is the "kick" at the end of a race...of any distance.")
Micah obliged and finished with an even bigger smile. Grandpa tracked me down and thanked me as he was apparently cloaking us with camera in hand the whole time. Would LOVE to have a couple of those pictures. Perhaps my next career in running is toddler coach?
What's your favorite volunteer moment...have you helped young kids in a race before? Would love to hear from you here, on twitter, or my Facebook page.
Footnote: I have perhaps mentioned the "We need a miracle football game before." One of my boys was around 11 years old and had signed up for Flag Football. I traveled then like I do now, but figured, I'd "check the box" as occasional dad volunteer. The story goes that the head coach claimed he never signed up, the assistant coach bailed and this Dad all of a sudden was head coach. We had a band of misfits many of whom were destined to be accountants or band team members and a first time head coach. We got slaughtered by the perennial champions in our opening game. I had kids crying in the huddle. My competitive nature kicked in and decided that this game would not define me or my kids so I buckled down and came up with my own playbook. We narrowly lost the second game then went on to win five straight. The last win? It was over the same team that trounced us. My EA Sports Madden Football and Mike Shanahan "west coast" influenced offense had veteran coaches baffled. We were down by one score when the opposing team had to literally run the clock out. My younger boy squeeled out, "we need a miracle!" They threw an interception that turned into a "pick six" and we won the game. Same field I coached Micah on last weekend.