Summer preparation is over, the race season has begun and success has already been achieved. This past week I was able to watch many kids from camp test their fitness. The first meet was Tuesday at Sandburg Middle School in Elmhurst. I have not been that excited for a meet in 4 years! Parents, siblings, grandparents and friends were all there to support their favorite runner(s). We spent time reminiscing, anticipating and predicting. The gun was fired and the 6th and 7th grade girls were off and running. It was great to cheer for Sami, Jeanette, Anna, Emma, Maddie, Molly, Juliana, Erin, Erica, Ella and others. I then went over to wish the 6th and 7th grade boys well while they were waiting at the starting line. Their energy and excitement was overwhelming! The gun fired and it was time to be an active spectator. Cross-country is unique in that you can get right next to the athletes, cheer and then run to a new location and cheer again! Sometimes, I think that I run farther than the athletes! I cheered for Joe, Jackson, Danny, Gabe, Kevin, Sehe, Creighton and many more but my focus was most often placed on a boy named Charlie. He began the race, like most, too quickly. He paid a price for his enthusiasm and incurred a cramp. He was in obvious discomfort, but did his best to persevere. He experienced relief in the later stages of the race and finished strong. His performance was not what he had hoped for, yet he handled it with maturity that makes any adult proud, especially a father. His self-confidence was not altered and he started looking ahead to his next opportunity. Two days later, after some excellent coaching from his mother, Charlie executed a race plan to perfection and finished 14th in the 6th and 7th grade invitational that included Sandburg, Hadley, Churchville, Jackson, Indian Trail, Hinsdale and Bryan. I was proud of everyone’s effort. I can’t wait to watch the races again this Tuesday at Madison Meadows.