It may have been raining for the two spring 2022 School District 47 cross country meets, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the many participants.
The first meet was held on the field at Edgehill Elementary School on April 21, followed by the final event on May 5 at Sunset Park in Wildwood. Edgehill teacher Dave McMaster, one of the cross country event organizers, said the school district plans to have two such runs in the fall season and two in the spring. He said there is participation from all elementary schools in the school district.
Dynamics of cross country participants involves large numbers of students at the grade two and three level, tapering to a smaller number of serious competitors in the upper grades.
“It’s their choice if they want to participate, and we notice a difference between school time runs and after school time, because some of the students have other activities, so they might not be able to make the race if it’s after school,” he said. McMaster. “At the start of the Edgehill meet with the grade two and three students, you had 65 students running for the first corner all at the same time, and it was quite something,” said McMaster.
The Edgehill run was held during school time.
McMaster said because the cross country runs are an inter-school activity, it’s an opportunity to have fun competition against all of the other schools in the Powell River Board of Education area.
“That’s one of our intentions with inter-school sports,” McMaster added. “Cross country happens to be one of the events, and it’s an individual sport. Some kids are into the individual stuff and others are into team sports. It’s providing an option for another event to participate in. “
At the Sunset Park event, a large number of parents and spectators were on hand. McMaster said organizers were glad parents were able to come back and watch their children compete. The COVID-19 pandemic cut down on these types of events where families could get involved.
“Parents can cheer their kids on, take some pictures after the race and congratulate them,” said McMaster. “They can encourage them and say well done, and the kid feels good about themselves. That’s the key to us. “
The course at Sunset Park was set up by Dean Thorsell from James Thomson Elementary School. It started from the playing field and wound through the trails at the park. Each running event had a pair of cyclists leading the way so the students would know the proper course to follow.
McMaster said the cross country event was a good lead-up for some students who will be participating in some of the longer running events at the School District 47 track and field meet at Timberlane Park on May 27.
“It gives them a little bit of practice before the track meet,” he added.
McMaster said he was encouraged to participate in athletics during his own schooling by JP Dallos educator Harry Thompson, and it has led to a lifelong enjoyment of running.
“He was my cross country coach and that inspired me to run as a child,” said McMaster. “I’ve been running my whole life. If it weren’t for Harry Thompson, and James Devlin, who were big sports enthusiasts years ago in the community, I might not have become a runner. You start them when they are young and they go away. “
Thompson was also an outstanding masters-level athlete, competing from age 62 to 92 after breaking a number of provincial, national and international records.
McMaster said all of the school coaches get along and have fun. They do their best to make sure everyone feels good, he added.
“We have a great relationship within the community and all of the schools,” said McMaster. “There’s total support. You’ll even see the coaches cheering for other schools and congratulating kids. “