Many of the local primary schools (both public and private) send their best cross country runners to compete in a cross country race, four times a year and the course alternates between three of the private schools. Bunny has represented her school in cross country four times now and one of the inter school races was cancelled due to the snow from Storm Emma and “the Beast from the East”. Bunny usually uses junior park run on a Sunday as a way to train for the school cross country races. She hasn’t run junior park run for a good few months though, so I was quite surprised when she said she still wanted to compete in cross country for her school. She’d be running on no practise.
The most recent cross country race unfortunately coincided with parents evening and a football match, meaning no teachers could make it. There were only four children in the school who took part in cross country last year and two of those are now in a different school. That left Bunny and her friend… who had a football match.
But the day in question was International Women’s Day and Bunny was not perturbed by the fact nobody else at all would be attending cross country. Nothing would stop Bunny running that race.
This girl can.
I picked her up after school and she was already donning the school sports kit. I drove her in sub zero temperatures to the private school where the race was taking place. Bunny immersed herself in the crowd of a few hundred girls from other schools, where she knew nobody at all, and waited at the start line.
And then they were off.
This particular cross country course features an absolutely gruelling big long, steep hill. The bitter gale force winds were making the running harder and parts of the course still had a smattering of snow from Storm Emma. Where the snow had melted, it was replaced with thick sludgey mud. The children were part running and part sliding down the hill, meaning they had to slow down. Bunny had mud splattered all up her back and her legs. Once the mammoth hill is conquered, there is a really short hill, which is so steep that some children were climbing it with their hands on the ground too.
The course is reportedly just over a mile long and I’d say about half of it is up and down hills. The weather was vicious. Bunny hasn’t trained and had gotten off to a slow starting pace. But she was still there, still running, still representing her school. There were children dropping out, children in tears, and there was Bunny, lobbing her muddy school sweatshirt at me as she ran past me.
Just a year prior in this race, two of her friends had not completed it as they found the course too difficult, and that was in better weather. I knew Bunny would be disappointed with her finishing position but I can’t tell you how proud I was. Especially when she rounded that last corner and I shouted “Come on Bunny, it’s a sprint finish now, you’re almost there!”. And it was as if she flew the rest of the way. When she runs like that, I get a lump in my throat and proud tears in my eyes. Stupid isn’t it. Soppy emotional Mum, that’s me! But when that girl sprints, she really sprints. She was overtaking about 20 other children in that last hundred or so metres and I’m sure it was the fastest I’d seen her sprint before.
I’m not a pushy mum at all. Far from it. But Bunny likes to know when she’s close enough to the finish to sprint the rest without burning out. So afterwards I got told off, because she had energy left in the tank and had wanted a longer sprint. So perhaps I underestimated her on this one. My bad.
There were a few hundred girls in that race and Bunny came through in 85th place. Considering the conditions and lack of training, I think she did brilliant. She was disappointed, as I knew she would be, but her school certainly weren’t. And neither was I. That’s my daughter right there. Covered in mud, with flushed cheeks, warm heart, cold skin, windswept hair and sprinting for her school. Fierce, stubborn and ambitious. I’m proud of you Bunny.