Nearly fifty years ago, your PixofToronto editor took part in a city wide track and field meet while in 3rd grade as part of the St. Ambrose Grade School Team. The memories are still vivid. Barely finishing in the 800m, but helping to win the 400M relay race and sailing long in the broad jump. But most memorable of all was the delight of getting ribbons for our performances. It was so exciting.
Classmates and bicycle buddies were looking forward to the meet next year. Everytime we bicycled by the stadium we exchanged stories of athletic triumphs and tragedies. But the meets never happened again – budget cuts if I remember properly. Nevertheless, this one early summer meet instilled a love and passion for running, track & field and the Olympics that is sustained to this day.
So you can imagine the memories sparked by the following sight at Birchmount Stadium in Scarborough:
Birchmount Stadium stands filled with boys & girls for the Scarborough Grade School Track & Field meet
I was amazed to see the stands full of parents and students, lots of cheering, and the relay races on:
The relay races were remarkably close and entertaining as see above. The coach put his best runner first to establish a lead while the other team had their best runner last. Now the passing of the relay batons was a little crude by both teams so no real advantage to either team. However, a third team started to challenge but then the runner tripped in the final curve. So then it was fastest versus 2d fastest but with a big lead- ad well the video tells the rest of the story.
At our track & field meet it was boys-only many years ago. But in Scarborough , both girls and boys competed in all the same events. The girls relays and 100 meter races were awfully close and exciting. Unfortunately you will have to take my word for it as I inadvertently overwrote those girls competitions. But the girls’ triple jumping and broad jump competitions were saved:
Talking with some of the guys and girls I found out a little more about the track & field meet. First, almost all were pleased to be a part of the competition. Most had competed the previous year. And some had actually “trained” for the meet in their PE class or elsewhere. All were delighted that they got to skip a day of school – “and get their lunch paid for”.
I took a pass on the fries, hotdogs, and other greasy kids stuff. But certainly not on the kids delight in competing. One gal was determined to make “all the running” pay off in her swimming competition later in the Summer. Another gal and guy were going to join an orienteering club with their parents so they could “get ready for next year”.
Ye editor watched the 800M races with some practiced interest. There are two basic strategies: 1)go out fast for the first 400M , get a big lead and then coast home;or 2) run behind the two leading rabbits at whatever the early pace is and then rely on a closing kick to win the race. Both strategies were used:
This was the Rabbit Run with Closing Kick strategy
The second was the Big Lead Approach and Coast to Victory
In the approach of Big Lead & Cost to Victory, I was told by the runner’s Mom that the guy had an unfair advantage – he trained every day of the week for the race with even longer runs. I didn’t find out if these training runs were with his dad, siblings or other friends. But he won by a bigger margin than the first lap lead shown in the picture above.
There is nothing quite as exciting as a relay race. 400M is a perfect distance for the grade school competitors. Now in these relay races the runners were given quite a bit of leeway in the length of the passing zone and straying outside of their lanes. I saw only one disqualification and that occurred not in the 400M relay race but in the 400M dash as seen below:
The runner forged a big lead and then just crossed over to the inside lane instead of maintaining his lane all the way around the track. I think he may have been influenced by the 800M runs just before where the runners were able to cross over to the inside lane after clearing the first curve.
The 400M relays generated a lot of excitement as you can hear on the video below:
Both the girls and boys had some very excitig relay races.
Toronto Scarborough Track and Field meet for middle grade students brought back memories of a competition many years ago. That fostered a love of track and field, running and Olympic sports for a lifetime. I hope this generation derives the same benefits.