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X-Country, Hay Bales & Face Plants - VARSITY BOYS
This past Saturday I snapped over 4,000 photos at my favorite sporting event of the year. American Fork High School hosted their annual "Grass Relays" which I always refer to as the "AF Hay Bale Relays". The two mile course features several locations where they place rows of hay bales that must be navigated to finish the course. About 30 schools attend, with about 1,500 runners competing in any of the 7 races. For Freshmen, Sophomore and Juniopr Varsity teams all of the boys run at one time and the girls at one time within their divisions. But for the Varsity teams they each have five runners that run twice around the track before handing off their baton to the next runner on their squad. My son Aaron ran for the Orem High School Varsity squad and he had a blast navigating the course. But there were those that had nothing more than a mouth full of alphalpha.... Ooooooooch!!!
I mention the race format because all divisions below Varsity are just a madhouse. While the Varsity race starts with just 30 runners, the others start with hundred of runners that quickly get spread out through the 2 mile course. I was positioned high above the race on a ladder at the end of the final hay bales in a section of the course known as "The Gauntlet!" Watching all of the runners funnel down into one passage with 8 rows of hay bales is absolutely fascinating and entertaining. I took hundreds of photos in anticipation of face plant wipe outs. I was able to capture several and while I groaned along with the crashees (victims), I was secretly hoping for a lot more crashes. It was spectacular fun watching a runner catch his foot on a third row hay bale and fly face first into the fourth row with hundreds of spectators looking on and groaning in unison. And then, getting up just as quickly and continue onward as though nothing happened. I viewed no major injuries, but there were a lot of bruised egos. It was inspiring to see each crashed runner get back up and compete. There has just got to be a metaphor on life somewhere in that experience. Yep, here it is...
"It's not how hard you fall and wipe out that counts, it's how quickly you get back up and finish the race!!!"
Yes, I loved the crashes! But I loved even more when I was quick enough to capture the lightening strike as it happened and get the crash in photo form. Exciting, morbid, and yes even a guilty pleasure; I love this event!
AARON'S VARSITY TEAM
This year was special for me because my 16 year old son Aaron is running on the Orem High School Varsity team. He has always loved to run, but nowadays he is learning to love to race. The biggest complaint from other runners about Aaron is that he talks too much during the runs/races. While others are gasping for air, Aaron wants to talk. Does he do that to get into their heads? Nope! Aaron does it because running for him is not a chore and it seems like a perfectly good time to have a deep conversation.
PARKER ADAMS - JUNIOR
In the AF "Hay Bale" Relay Parker was our first leg runner. He ran a good leg at 11:16 for his two miles, but we were in about 27th place when he handed off the baton.
AARON LEAVITT - JUNIOR
Aaron ran a very respectable 10:57 2 mile time, but he didn't have anybody to talk with since he passed by them too quickly and he went from 27th to 15th place.
JIRAA RIDING "JIDAH"- SOPHOMORE
Jiraa (10:50) went next and kept up the pace and had us in 11th place at the end of his two laps run.
NOTE: When one of you gets the chance, please give me the key to tell these two twins apart. The best I can do is see their different color shoes - Jiraa has red shoes with green shoe laces and Jiree has flourescent orange shoes. They're are always moving too fast for me to be able to talk with them!!!
ERIK MCKELL - SENIOR
The fourth leg was run by Eric and he ran a great 10:55 and he held pace with the group he started out with.
JIREENGA "JIDAAA" - SOPHOMORE
Jiree ran the last leg with our fastest time at 10:45 and brought the team into their respectable 9th place finish.
I kidded after the race, that if the baton would have been handed to me with only three teams behind me, I would have gone into relaxed cruise control, or maybe would have just said "Why Bother!" It was a mark of courage for the team to give it their all. I felt a bit bad for Parker because he had to run with all of the sprinters in the first leg of the race. The pressure of a shorter relay, the baton in hand, running at a different pace, can really throw you off. It was much easier for the subsequent runners to get the baton and just run their race without all of the starting line adrenalin and fighting for position. I asked Aaron if he would have preferred to run the starting leg and he was quick to respond with, "No way Dad, I am not a sprinter!" The relay format was a one time event for the Orem High School Cross Country Team. Now they can get back to the 3.1 mile training without any hay bales to navigate.
VARSITY BOYS PHOTOS
Check out my other posts with photos of the other teams. Just click on "X-Country" on the left navigation bar and select the division.