LET THE KIDS HAVE THEIR DAY!
Last night was the kids' run connected with our big 25k race on Saturday. They have always run it separately from the big race, although now that they have a 5k run and walk on the same day, the kids can do both if they choose. The difference though is the kids only race is NOT competitive, while the 5k run/walk is. Most of the kids who run the kids only race, however, are there because of school contests that start in April, getting the kids out running, and if they run 25 miles in the month of April, they get a free entry to the kids race. My two boys both have done the race, as have my sister's kids, and now my grandsons are participating. So I've been to many of these events over the years. Its always a lot of fun to watch their enthusiasm, and its amazing to see all the runners from the area volunteering to help these kids enjoy the sport like they do.
What got to me last night though was not the 3000 kids and parents who were there, not the somewhat disorganization of the race directors, and not all the screaming excited kids. No, what got to me were the parents.
When we arrived, they had already started the half mile heats. Austin was going to do 1 mile, so he would be running later we found out. There were already hundreds of kids on the track running their two laps, some with parents. That was okay, since some kids were just too little to be basically thrown to the wolves, with all the kids running all over the place. What was not okay, to me anyway, were all the parents out there like they were in a parade or something, in whatever they happened to be wearing, running along, waving to the crowd, stealing the kids' thunder.
This only got worse with each heat. One guy, who really irritated me, was out there running when we got there at 5:45 and was almost one of the last people off the track at 7 pm. He did have 2 kids, but it just didn't add up that they would be running for that long. He obviously was out there doing his own thing.
Austin ended up being in the last heat doing the mile, and this only after my (and a few others') insistence that they better not forget these kids, since they were already calling the start of the 5k kids race. When they finally let these kids onto the track, there were almost as many parents who joined them. Okay, I guess if they want to run, was all I was thinking. And then, the next thing I knew, the kids were running but the parents? Not! Only a couple. The rest? Stood in a line on one lane of the track waiting for their kids (most 2nd grade or older) to come around the track each time. I realize they were out there cheering them on, but at the same time, so was I (and my daughter), but we were standing where they should have been: on the other side of the fence. And of course, with all these people on the track, they blocked the view of the kids as they came around, so we almost missed Austin each time until we finally moved away from the crowd.
Then to make matters worse, the 5k kids were running through the neighborhoods but were doing 2 laps on the track. So these same oblivious parents were now exiting the track with their strollers, dogs, etc. while these other poor kids were trying to get around them. A couple of kids got tripped and fell, but fortunately got up and continued on.
To me, I think these people should have been told to wait on the other side of the fence UNLESS they were also running with the kids. The majority of them were not. Maybe they thought the kids couldn't function without them hovering! It was more like they couldn't function without the kids or they were afraid to let the kids out of their sight.
I know a lot of this was poor organization by the race volunteers, but at the same time I couldn't help feel that the parents were just too much. It was a kids run, so why did they feel it was necessary to practically hold their hands throughout?
Maybe I'm making too much out of this, especially now days when you just can't be too safe with your kids. On the other hand, the parents seemed a little stifling to me or way too pushy, like the kids HAD to get out there and beat everyone. Okay, rant over.