|Alex bouncing to third place in the sack race|
I hadn't planned to enter the Dads race at the school sports day. I broke away from work to cheer Alex on and was intending to dart back as soon as his events were over. He competed in and enjoyed the 25 yard sprint, the egg and spoon race and the beanbag race. As I was about to head home I had a rush of guilt and decided I had to stay so Alex could cheer on his dad.
After the mums egg and spoon race came the big event. The bean bags were placed, the starter was ready and the finish line officials positioned themselves, poised eagle-eyed to count the finishers home. Meanwhile the dads strutted about the field, not wanting to get into position too soon or look each other in the eye.
I finally made my move to the start line only to discover that all the places had been taken. About seven of us would not be able to start. A decision was quickly made that there would be two heats and I had to decide which I should enter. Lined up in heat one were Wallman, an ex-professional footballer and a host of tasty looking lads. Hovering behind were a group of largely portly middle aged gents who looked like they hadn't done a step of exercise since leaving school. Well, I'm not going to fight to go into wave 1!
Wave one finishes and it's time to get on the blocks. You can cut the tension with a knife. In scenes reminiscent of London 2012 the crowds are jumping up and down cheering and dancing. Someone may have let off a smoke flare. We athletes are oblivious to all of this however, our entire being focused on that first small beanbag ten meters away.
Tooooooooooooooooooooot goes the starter's whistle and we are off. I'm not happy with my start, my shoes slipping slightly, but I nail the first bag and deposit it into my hoop on the start line in about second place. I'm out to bag two, only just catching it with my fingertips on the turn (careful Stevie!) and back to the start hoop in first place. Out to the final bag and I am already lapping the slower runners. I am comfortably in first place and feel I can stroll in from here.
As I drop my final bag into the hoop disaster strikes. Maybe it's my choice of footwear (I wasn't planning to race) or maybe I'm just thinking about leaping to glory over the finish line but as I turn my foot slips from under me and I am down on the ground. The crowd take a collective gasp then the stadium/school field falls silent. I scramble to my feet as one, two, three dads pass me. My legs are pumping trying to make ground but I feel as though they have a mind of their own. There's obviously a technique to this sprinting business and I haven't got it. I pass two dads but one remains ahead. I ease back the cadence, desperately trying to regain control of my legs and it works. I feel the blast of pace and start chasing the leader down. But have I left it too late?
Ten meters to go and I almost have him. Yes, I am going to get him. But what's this? With a glance over his shoulder he sees I am gaining and starts to drift into my lane. Up comes an elbow then a shoulder then I'm being barged off the track, much to the delight of the crowds. We both dip for the line and the officials award a draw.
Lessons learned are to wear trail shoes, ensure you pick the right wave to run in and watch out for the rugby player in lane two. Great fun!