Monday, February 06, 2006

The XCross Country Weekend

Our cross country team at last Saturday's Cross Country Meet.

The West Spring Team were invited to Ngee Ann Polytechnic on the 4th of February 2006 for the Annual XCampus Run. It was competitive campus event which was open to all Ngee Ann Polytechnic staff & students and also runners from the various secondary schools here. The objective of the event was to allow friends of Ngee Ann Polytechnic (staff, students & visitors) to experience Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s exuberant atmosphere, as what we were told earlier. The event also served as a prelude warm-up race to the Nationals X-Country for us, members of the cross-country team, later in the year.

We had promptly reported ourselves at the grand Ngee Ann Polytechnic Sports’Complex at around 7:35am. Did the basic confirmation at the registration booth, then continued with the warm-ups before all race participants were asked to report for briefing by the officials on safety guidelines, rules and regulations. We saw an equal share of familiar faces and unfamiliar faces. Some of them were our friends from different schools or competitors we had met at previous cross-country competitions.

Our hearts were pumping furiously when it was time for us to prepare ourselves at the starting point. As we walked towards the starting line, we saw the oncoming steep slopes. In our minds, it was not going to be much of a problem because we had been training diligently on high sloping terrain countless times before. For most of us runners, the main purpose here was not really much to outrun the other participants (though an added bonus!). But more to prove to ourselves that the race would be completed no matter how rigorous. Mind over body.

And they were off, as the Guest-of-Honour waved the checkered flag to start off the race. The front runners jostled for the front positions while the rest kept an tactical distance pacing themselves for the gruelling, long run under the punishing morning sun. Everyone looked serious and determined. Every well-conditioned athlete each came with a game plan. There were more than some 300 competitors competing in the race. The boys were to run a distance of 4.2km while the girls were running a 3.1km route. The male runners had started the race and then followed by the female runners, each running in separate catagories.

Some runners even supported and encouraged on one another during the race though they were not from the same school. It was really a matter of true sportsmanship. I remembered running and cheering on a couple of runners along the way. Sometime during the race, I set a target for myself, which was to beat the girl from PLMGS, sporting an unmistakable yellow jersey. She was running in front of me throughout the race. She had a good rhythm in her stride but a West Spring runner was always equally well-trained. I matched here every step of the way. The sprawling Ngee Ann Polytechnic campus was incredibly huge. The many high slopes that we had to conquer looked formidable but it was all in the mind. To endure and not give up.

At the last 300m, I give all I had left in me and sprinted to the finishing line - taking the girl in yellow jersey by surprise. It was all in good fun. Although I did not come in the top 10 positions, what was more important was that I had not given up at any point in the race and started walking. I personally felt that the West Spring runners had done their very best. I congratulated some runners I had met at the finishing line and complimented them on the good job of finishing the challenging race.

After that, while quenching our thrist with the gratifying ice water provided, some of the runners and myself continued cheering on the other runners who were just about to complete their race. Some even waved at us and smiled. We were really happy then. With all that done, it was time for us to return our tags in exchange for our well-deserved goodie bags. In the midst of all the exchanges going on, I met a friend from RI. He was sweet to have said hi to me. All participants then assembled at the track for the prize presentation ceremony. Though West Spring did not capture any trophies, one of our junior runners did us proud by receiving a medal for coming in the 19th position. But the others runners did it well too, by achieving a place in the top 50 of their individual placing.

Lesson to be learnt, to never give up and keep on the passion no matter how hard that hill might be.



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