Cross-country stroll in park, but still character building
I’M WRITING this column on a bench in a perfectly pleasant park, on a perfectly pleasant day, as scenes of suffering unfold around me.
No, it’s not people’s picnics being raided by filthy ibises — it’s our school’s annual cross-country.
Despite the huffing, puffing and exertion of the participants, I use the event name loosely — this is “cross-country” in the inner city.
Two laps of the cricket oval and avoid the mothers’ groups.
Soy lattes for everyone at the finish line.
It’s just a far cry from the torturous cross-country we endured “when I was a lass”.
We’d stagger along in squelchy sneakers for miles, get lost quite a lot, reach a point somewhere over the Victorian border and turn around, muddied and bloodied, for home. My GP dad obligingly wrote me notes to avoid the drama.
Today the teacher lines up the runners, instructing: “If you’re competitive, go to the front.” Some kids, like my younger daughter, go out hard early and fade fast; more Aesop’s Hare than Energizer Bunny.
I see a great act of sportsmanship. One of the quick young lads takes a nasty tumble and at least six boys — behind and ahead of him — stop to help. It seems cross-country can be character building after all.