Everyone is gathered on the oval at the campsite. It is the third day of the homeschooling camp. Red and white tape flutters in the breeze, marking out a course in the middle of the oval. In the very centre is a table with all kinds of equiptment. Among the balls and other things I see javelins, not something we normally see at a homeschooling event.
The children sit dwn in three teams as we stand to one side and watch. Visitors aren't in teams. So Charlotte and I stand with Dad, ready to cheer our friends on. But then, "We need more people in this team," a mother says. "Can you two run for them?"
And so, suddenly we are in the line, waiting for the nervous moment when we will be handed the baton. Will I drop it? I wonder. Will I be too slow? I am near the end of the line and so have lots of time to watch everyone else running.
The other teams run quickly. Or maybe they just have less people. At anyrate, by the time it is my turn, I feel as if I could just walk down the field. We still had people to run and the other teams were just about finished. But I run, and soon am handing the baton on to someone else, who flys down the other end with it.
Charlotte and I walked back to Dad.
"Guess what," Charlotte says with a big smile. "We lost."
We stand near the table and listen as the next event is announced. It is the sprints. But we don't want to sprint. Instead we stand as cheer as our friends run.
But then it is the cross country. Two or so laps of the oval.
"You should run Imogen," Dad tells me.
"I'm not sure..." I say. I'm not sure I want to run. I might be the slowest one in the race. that would be humiliating. No, I'm not sure I want to race.
But then I walk over to the start line. I might as well race. Sophie and Gemma-Rose have been running in everything. I might as well run in one thing. It didn't matter if I was the slowest. I could still have fun.
The clapper went. Suddenly everyone was running. I could see most of the racers in front of me. But there is plenty of time to catch them up. We have two laps. I run along at my own little pace, slowly but surely catching up with the people who have started off too quickly and are now tired. As we start the second lap, I am well up in the field.
It is a wonderful feeling to be running in the race. Now that I am in the rhythm I feel as if I could run on forever. But we're on the last side now. And now I'm running faster. My boots fly over the ground. I'm not last, I'm not the slowest. I'm flying along now!
Then the finish line flashes past. The race is over. I jog back to Charlotte and Dad, my face flushed with the effort.
"How did I do?" I asked.
"Really well. You beat lots of people," they reply.
That's the end of the races. Or so we think. Suddenly we see lots of the fathers lining up. It is the Father's Race.
"Go on Dad," we tell him. "You go and race."
He ums and ahs for a moment, before lining up with the other dads. The clapper goes and the men are off and running.
"Go on Dad," Charlotte and I yell. It is funny to be yelling 'Dad' when all the runners are dads. But he'll know that we're cheeing for him.
"Well done Dad," we tell him when he comes back, puffing a bit from the run. "You beat a lot of younger dads."
Dad looks quite pleased with himself at that.
Then it is the Mother's Race.
"Why don't you race Mum?" we urge her. "We've all raced."
She protests, "But I'm not dressed for running."
Still, she goes and lines up. We stand at the sidelines, ready to cheer for Mum. They're off. Mum's running well. Then suddenly, only a few metres from the start line, she trips and falls. Mothers dodge in every direction, trying not to stand on her.
I run to help her up. For a moment I'm afraid that she's hurt herself. But then she stands up and smiles at us.
"It was my boots," she explains. "They slipped. I told you I'm not dressed for running."
We dust her off. She not hurt at all, except for slight grazes on her palms.
Soon it is time to go home. On the journey back, we discuss the races. We talk about Sophie winning her race. Dad running in his. Charlotte and I running in the relay race. Then we think about Mum's race.
"I did the best splat," Mum declares. "No on else went splat like me."
And we all agree. We might have run well, but no one goes splat like Mum.