Friday, June 6, 2008
To the Participants Belong the Spoils
Both my son Jackson and I are proud to display our participant awards in our most recent athletic events. I received my very cool medal for successfully completing my first 200k brevet bike ride, and Jackson received a participant ribbon for running the 400 meters in his school's 6th grade track and field day.
As is mentioned on any website dealing with such-randonneuring is not racing. Each participant who successfully completes a brevet or longer randonee within the time limit is congratulated. If results are published, it is always alphabetically and never by the fastest time. So by finishing my first brevet within the required time limit of 13.5 hours I was eligible for my medal-which I promptly ordered.
Randonneuring awards are based on finishing and the more prestigious awards are for finishing many and varied events. I'm just getting started-but I've got my sights set on the "Super Randonneur" award for next year. I can earn that by completing a full brevet series (200k, 300k, 400k, and 600k) within one calendar year. Once again-it doesn't matter who's the fastest-just that you complete the rides as per the rules and finish within the time limits. I think it's a neat way to go for riders like me who don't have the fast twitch muscles needed for racing-but still like to push ourselves, strive towards a goal, and be recognized for our efforts by an organizing body.
Not unlike my award-which was for participating and finishing my 200k brevet, Jackson participated and finished his 400 meter run. He didn't get a first place ribbon, or a second place ribbon...or any ribbon for finishing amongst the top in his class-but he ran the whole thing and he finished-and I couldn't have been prouder. You see-Jackson isn't an athletic kid and he is especially not a runner (neither am I). So it was with much concern that I heard him say he signed up for the 400. I asked him if he had ever run all the way around the track and he said he's only run on the straight-aways and walked on the curves. Oh great! I thought. He's going to be embarassed as he struggles around that track and holds up the entire meet waiting for him to finish...or worse he won't finish at all. So when the starter's pistol fired I was as nervous as I could be. Off they went-Jackson in the first lane started out at a nice steady pace. He kept chugging and even caught up to a kid who had started walking on the third turn. He plugged away down the stretch. And he crossed the finish line to the cheers of the entire class who was watching the race. I couldn't get out of the stands and down to the track fast enough to give him a high five. As I was walking with him every kid that we met said, "Great job Jackson! Way to go!"
Just like when I was a kid-everybody got a participant ribbon. When I got mine I usually discarded it right away-it didn't mean anything compared to the blue, red, or white ribbon for finishing in the top three. But Jackson's heroic effort changed that attitude for me. His participant ribbon represented an effort and achievement he had never attained before. I couldn't have been happier if he had been the first one over the line. Finishing strong and running around the track the whole way was a sweet victory in itself-just like finishing a brevet.