Today was the school’s big sporting event. The Inter-House Cross Country day. Running is about the only sport that Woodstock takes at all seriously, which is somewhat deranged in my humble opinion, given the topography of the area. I think cross country is a masochistic sport under the best of circumstances (i.e. in the Midwest on flat ground). Here, at 7,000 feet, surrounded by the ups and downs of living on the side of a mountain, it is downright insane. But nonetheless the kids—and staff too, I found out—get extremely pumped up about the cross country races.
Part of the excitement stems from the (usually) friendly competition that runs rampant on race day. The school is divided into three “houses” and every student and staff member belongs to a particular house. You can be a Condor (green), an Eagle (blue), or a Merlin (red). That’s me. Merlin. Apparently we’re famous for losing. The Condors always win, in part because the PE teacher and “divide-people-into-houses-guy” is a Condor. But oh well it’s fun anyways.
This year, they paired the cross country event with “fair weather day” – a random, surprise day of cancelled classes that comes at the end of monsoon when everyone’s going stir-crazy after six weeks of rain. The weather was not, in point of fact, fair today—it was rainy and cold—but it was nice to be able to run the races in the morning and then give the kids the rest of the day off.
All the students race—it’s required for everyone up to grade 11. The wee tiny kindergarteners just pop around the corner from the main gate of the school then come pelting the 100 yards or so to the finish line. It’s exceedingly cute. Then the races get longer as the kids get older until the 11th and 12th graders “run” about 2 miles. Really, most of them sprint off the line, walk while out of sight, then come screeching around the bend to the finish line. You can always tell who actually ran the whole thing because they’re actually tired at the end!
Staff members are allowed to race, but their victories don’t count toward the day’s points. They run with the 11th and 12th graders, and both races (boys and girls) were won handily by jock-y staffers. My friend Jamie smoked the girls race and didn’t even look winded at the end. She disgusts me. Yours truly did not race, as I am 100% sure I can’t run two miles and I didn’t realize at first that walking was not only accepted but expected. But I got into the Merlin team spirit, wearing my red house t-shirt and permitting the 12th grade girls to paint my face red (I hope it comes off!). It was fun. I screamed myself hoarse, froze in the rain, and generally had a great time.