In it for the love

Posted in Through the Lens by Matt Ward on Mon 20 Oct '08

© Google Images

"Run Forest, run..."

The Halcyon days – its enough to make a grown man cry!

When I recently stumbled across this photo I saw two things.

I noticed the youngster, cold, possibly wet, frail frame clad in a cagoule, wooly track bottoms, and plimsoles, either waiting his turn to race, or dreaming, dreaming of the day when he can be that good. That good to be able to stride out, master the conditions and the opposition. (Or maybe he is just waiting, waiting for a lift home from his Dad, who is running in this “stupid race”?)

The senior athlete ploughs through the mud of a typical sub-urban course. Municipal playing fields perhaps, sharing the land with Saturday afternoon football and rugby teams, dodging balls and abusive language, wearing a cotton vest, cotton shorts, flimsy leather track spikes, long before the days of branding, logos, eva midsoles and high-tech textiles, tea and sandwiches was as advanced as the sports nutrition got, fueling his body against the chill of an easterly wind. The runner is transfixed, eyes undeviating, mind focused, calculating the distance to go and who is in front or behind him, dreaming, dreaming of a win, or a warm shower, or the warmer climes of the summer track season.

But it also exudes commitment, a love for running, the freedom and basic art of cross-country running – something that anyone who in is involved in our glorious sport will recognize.

Cross-country running – a sport feared by every schoolboy and girl up and down the land, a sport that normally entails muddy courses, even muddier changing rooms (if you are lucky enough to find a space to get changed, when you finally find them), races that have nothing in the way of prizes, often run in miserable conditions, with (not always) miserable officials, longing for a warm drink and some shelter – if you can appreciate or connect with any of the above, and you’re still running/officiating/supporting this sport, you – like the two above – really are in ‘it for the love’!

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