Participants run to cherish time

In the annual Inter-House Cross country race held on Nov. 19, Saira Mehra, Class of 2020, claimed the first position. Breaking the girls record — again —  she was “satisfied” with the results. Faisal Qadir won the senior boys race.

As the Grade 11 and 12 crowds headed up for their races, excited chatter about potential winners created a festive mood. By the time these groups finally reached Kellogg Church, the Grades 9 and 10 girls match was close to an end.

“I think I could have pushed more,” Sara Bissell, Class of 2022, said, despite her first position in the inter girls race. Although she was proud of herself for giving what she had, she felt as if she was not “pushing in the hills.”

As Bissell returned to the spectator crowd, Mr. Mark announced the start of the inter boys race with a “ready, set, go!” The first moments of the race were followed by cheers from the crowd.

“Let’s go Merlins!” “Let’s go Eagles!” “Let’s go Condors!” echoed as the boys raced into the wild.

As the rate of adrenaline of the contestants rose and the excitement continued, the boys race ended with a heart-warming moment.

Mukhtar Keyse, Class of 2021, and Jigme Kinley Dorjee, Class of 2022, were the first two runners to appear from the woods. The race deemed a surprise, as both Dorjee and Keyse stopped right before the finish line.

The sudden confusion among the crowd was answered, and a moment of awe arose with a simple act: a game of rock, paper, scissors would determine who would be in first place.

“It’s only fair,” Keyse said, as he stated how both of them ran together the whole race. After all, it did not matter who conquered the first or second; instead, what mattered was the fact that they were running the track together.

Their run concluded as Mukhtar won the rock-paper-scissors, in the midst of appreciation and cheers from the crowd.

More cheers rose again later that afternoon, especially from the Eagles. The stands were cheering for Mehra.

Photo by Saksham Basu

Just like any other runner before their race, Mehra was “scared, scared, and scared.” As she was close to the end, she felt relieved by the fact that she got the time she wanted.  Ending the season with this inter-house race, she said, “It was a good finish.”

As much as this was a satisfying event, for some of the participants, it was more than that.

Before the start of the senior boys race, a group of senior boys walked up to Mr. Mark, to earn his consent to participate even though they were wearing jeans.

Though Mr. Mark denied their request, as it was stated that no contestants without proper running equipment would be qualified for the race, because this was the last race for the seniors, Mr. Mark eventually approved of their participation.

Photo by Saksham Basu

Sahil Raisuddin, Class of 2019 and one of the senior runners from that group, said that the whole idea of this was to “chill with friends” and “cherish” all the events hosted at Woodstock in their senior year, with the people who he cared for.

For Faisal Qadir, Class of 2019, this event was “really really bad.” This was because he was running his last cross country race.

Photo by Knema Gardner

“There is this thing that our coach [Mr. Monish John] always says: there are no people cheering out there, you are only on your own,” Qadir said.

Qadir won his race, yet he was not happy.

Since last year, he has been a part of the cross country team. Whenever he was on track with his running shoes on, he had one thing on his mind: “the next race.”

It did not matter if it was a small race, or if it was months away. Qadir had a goal. As a runner, the race marked an emotional end to a career at Woodstock, one that he had dedicated himself to in his two years at the school.

“After I crossed the finish line, I did not have anything to look forward to in running in cross country. It feels weird and sad that it’s the last time,” he said.

For some, the event was a remarkable, satisfying, and an excellent way to end the season. It was more than just a race, and it was a chance to show fairness and how competition is not the lone reason for sports. For the others, especially the seniors, it was a chance to bond and enjoy the limited time that they have together.

Featured image by Knema Gardner

Edited by Shivaansh Garg

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