Don’t make me do the mums’ race… ever

School sports day
Team Bundance in training

To my left a woman in running shorts – bare, muscled calves twitching to be off. Taller than me by a head. 

On the right the short-haired mum has pulled off her floral blouse to reveal a running top with integral sports bra. Oh, no. She has spiked athletic shoes. As the deputy head gets ready to give the signal, she drops to a crouch. She is young enough to be my daughter.

Shit. I’ve still got my handbag over my shoulder and my camera around my neck. No time to put it down, the teacher raises his hand. Silence. A fraction of a moment, no more. I see my sons’ faces. 

Go. Mummy, mummy. Run. And they’re off. At least everyone else is. I jam my bag under my arm and follow slipping sideways out of my sandals. 

“Mummy, you were last,” he accuses, the shame burning hot and hard. 

Then I wake up, cold sweat on my top lip. It was only a dream. A nightmare.

It was sports day today. The eighth potential mums’ race since Boy One first joined primary one. I have never, once run the race and I never will. The dream is just a nightmare that comes again and again. 

I know some of you parents think participating on sports day is just part of the fun. An extension of your own playing field successes. 

However, for those of us for whom PE was a series of humiliating and uncomfortable unpleasantnesses, there could be nothing worse. I am comfortable with my lack of athletic ability, that I’m an endurance model not the fast version. But, once a year, the spectre of navy shorts and Airtex shirts looms. Black gym shoes with worms of elastic curling from the stretchy bit.

Clearly, I’m a grown up now and if I don’t want to do it, I don’t have to. But still I always take steps to make sure my participation is impossible. 

Once I was pregnant, once days post-partum. Twice it got rained off and once I was nursing a nasty case of norovirus. 

The other times, I made sure I was scuppered by my footwear – impossibly high heels twice and today wellies. You can’t run in wellies, everyone knows that. 

So, come on ‘fess up. Do you happen to put on your restraining athletic bra on sports day or do you fling yourself down the stairs to sustain enough of an injury create an excuse? 

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  1. says

    Ha, I just say 'Look at me. Do I look like I'm going to participate in voluntary athletics?'
    They usually get the idea.

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