Sports Day season is upon us, and it’s your chance to shine. Not only do you get to see your child’s cutely poor lane discipline and heroic recovery after a trip in the sack race, but you get to join in the main event: the Parents’ Race. Here’s some tips on how to take your share of Sports Day glory.
1. Train all year
No gym membership required. The distance you’ll be covering will be similar to sprints you already perform, such as the “Oh! That’s my child falling off the slide!” streak, and the “That’s a road!” dash. The school likes to throw in obstacles and impediments – but again this is true to life. At my race yesterday we had to run balancing a beanbag on a bat – for which I was perfectly prepared by my long experience of running with a baby to stop the other two from harming themselves or each other. Upper body still, legs a blur, people.
2. Don’t dress the part
Wearing your gym kit is way too keen and will make it all the more embarrassing if you don’t win. But do – and I can’t emphasise this enough – wear a bra. Also a full pant. If you a) have to go through a tunnel or b) fall over, you’ll thank me. Best to look as though entering the race hadn’t crossed your mind. A long, floaty silk dress should do it.
3. Choose your heat carefully
Take advantage of the start-line hubbub where slightly uncomfortable adults throng, torn between the joy of joining in, fear of failure and just plain bashfulness. Check out your competition. Usually the competitive dads jostle to be in the first race, while mums step from foot to foot behind, smiling weakly, and the dads who are in their suits and just doing it out of loyalty to their child loiter at the back. Aim to be in a single-sex race (although it’s always nice to beat a man, of course) and go in the first mums’ race: get it over with before the nerves get to you.
4. Disarm the competition
Smile self-deprecatingly and distract your opponents by asking how their kid did. Murmur about your (undefined) “injury”.
5. Make sure your child is looking
After all, you’re only running this race to make them proud / laugh. Right?
6. Don’t miss the start
Don’t get so distracted by your gameplay and waving wildly to get your child’s attention (now you know how they feel), that you miss the whistle. Work out who is starting the race and fix them like a gimlet.
7. Run like you’ve just spotted George Clooney
When that whistle goes, look neither to right not left, and run your little socks off. For 30 metres, be Mo Farah.
8. Win graciously
Whatever you do, don’t do a little skip over the finish line and wave both fists in the air. Who would do that?
So there you have it. As you might have picked up, I did actually, er, WIN! But you don’t have to win to be a winner. You joined in, you made your kid (and probably the crowd) giggle and best of all – you got a sticker!
Of course, my own glory was as naught compared to my children’s. I was so proud of them just for standing still on the start-line in their cute shorts and not picking their nose very much. The fact that my oldest won three races, including the sprint – by a mile – is the icing on the cake.
Never taking this sticker off. Until it goes in the washing machine like all the others.
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