Running the good race

My Thoughts

atwoods@sti.netAugust 27, 2013 

This week Americans all over this great country will take time off the job to celebrate the American Labor movement. Labor Day is that day that we honor the men and women who do the work to build things, fix things, sell things and the great lifestyle their hard work provides to each of us.

This past week there were people lamenting that many in our society don't have jobs and worse that many who don't have jobs don't have the desire to even look for one. They have given up on themselves. They dropped out of the race.

This weekend children in our area will be spending their Labor Day weekend completing their training that probably began a few weeks ago for the first ever My-Tri, the mountain youth triathlon which will be held at Bass Lake on Sept. 7. To the young competitors this is the "big race."

When the crowds of parents, relatives, family friends, neighbors, and other curious onlookers gather at Miller's Landing Resort on the south shore of Bass Lake they are going to be there to cheer on kids who are learning the importance of running a good race.

Winning the race is great and whoever is the first place in each division deserves the accolades because they will have earned that trophy by working hard to get into shape and sticking with the game plan for running that race. Most of those entering the race will come in after the champions and yet they are to be supported and congratulated for their efforts and their desire to run the course and to complete the race. Trust me — a triathlon is grueling.

So why the race? The merchants around the area and especially the Bass Lake merchants wanted to do a few things. Give a chance for kids to be involved in something fun and good for them. They also wanted to raise some money for the North Fork Elementary School athletic and art programs.

What do youngsters learn from entering this sort of race? They first have to learn to commit to being a part of the race. They complete the application, get somebody to pay the entry fee which raises the dollars for the school. We love to see people commit to things and part of learning to commit is to state it publicly. When kids learn to make and keep commitments this makes them better adults in the future.

Next comes the sacrifice. While their friends are watching television or video games these athletes are out running, swimming, riding and doing the calisthenics to get into the best shape they can be so that they might win. Workouts make you better prepared for the race.

Meeting the deadlines. Applications are due along with fees and the athletes must be in front of Millers before the starting gun is fired or else they are already behind. This teaches the concept of being prepared and prompt along with the advantage of good planning.

Sportsmanship — They learn cheating isn't admired.

Family support. The athlete learns that they can't go it alone and that we all need some help along the way. This time the family supports their goal and the next time they might be expected to help another family member. They might be the racer but they have the team behind them and they learn that there is no 'I' in team. They also feel that luxury of having people cheering them on in their endeavors.

They also learn grace and dignity. The winners need to know how to win and accept the awards and congratulatory remarks with grace and humility. Those who fail to win need to learn to accept the loss or defeat with dignity. These athletes will need to learn to tell the victors, "good job, great race, congratulations, and well done." This is far better than making excuses for not winning. They need to know that excuses are like noses — everyone has one.

In my book, any youngster who enters, competes, and completes this triathlon is worthy of our praise. This race is simply a breeding ground for the next crop of champions in the Mountain Area.

So join us at 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 7 at Miller's Landing for the start and finish of the "My-Tri" race and be a part of cheering on kids who learned to "run the good race."

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