Today, all the La Rochefoucauld primary schools gathered on a God-Forsaken field somewhere outside of the town for a bit of a run. The Boy had been very worried ever since he got the news. He’s quite sensitive about many things and he does worry about how he’s going to do, bless him. He was down to run 1,500 metres and he has been worrying about it for at least two weeks. First it was the fact he gets stitches. I’m an ex-marathon runner and have done several triathlons (hence the stress fractures and plantar fasciitis!!) so I’d given him my best advice. Then it was the fact he didn’t think he could do the distance, so I did lots of persuading about its shortness and how it was only 5 minutes of running.
I like the fact that competition is encouraged here (although some of the children at the back reminded of me in Mrs Riley’s PE class!) and that endless health and safety protocols hadn’t taken over. It reminds me of how I used to run school trips every weekend to watch Manchester Storm in the ice hockey – where risk assessments weren’t required and often it was me and 50 kids, a few parents and a whole lot of excitement. It’s depressing to realise how few excursions take place these days. Despite the worries, it has been the highlight of The Boy’s month.
But… it was cold as hell. I can’t remember having been so cold. I had a thermal vest on, a t-shirt, a polo-neck, a jumper, a fleece, an anorak, two scarves, a hat and gloves – warm enough on top, but my two pairs of leggings felt like I was in bare legs, and my feet, with only one pair of socks and my boots, were like ice. Once, we were taken up to Siddall Moor High School to play netball. The wind blew down over the Pennines cutting through us like daggers, with us in just our gym skirts and vile big PE knickers. My legs still bear the scars. It was vaguely reminiscent of the scene in Kes where the wonderful Brian Glover playing the bullying Mr Sugden. Today didn’t feel much different, despite the layers.
The Boy was in the final race, by which time the atmosphere was at fever pitch. It was The Boy contre all the other boys in his school, as well as the other schools across the town. We’d already talked about Arthur, one of Jake’s friends, whose father takes him running. Arthur has his own running shorts, so The Boy wasn’t confident he’d beat Arthur. One of the Julians in CM2 also seems to be at least two years older in height and build, but The Boy was happy to come in behind these two.
Arthur led the race for most of the way, followed by Julian. Jake started somewhere near the back with Axel and made his way up the field. He must have passed more people than any one else!
After a nerve-wracking five minutes where I was as giddy as he was, Arthur had lost a bit of pace and another boy came racing up past him, followed by another. He came in fifth, followed by Julian, and Jake came in eighth! I was super-impressed!! Of 100 boys, most of whom were older than him, he came in eighth!
Sometimes boys are great!