When is a little bit of rain during a race perfectly acceptable, or perhaps even sought out? When that race is the Saucony XC (Cross Country) Kickoff Classic, of course! Each year, over 30 teams from Georgia and South Carolina toe the line in both the Boys and Girls Varsity events (usually JV’ers too, but sadly we had to cancel their 2-miler this year due to lightning) to ring in their season in style; we blare music, we drop hay bales in inconvenient spots all over Daffin Park, and we make the course accessible for friends/family and coaches to see their runners no less than seven times throughout the run. And did I mention that Daffin Park is a natural water/mud trap? This is not your mother’s cross country event, and the kids (and adults that brave the Open event) love us for it. Although it’s very time-intensive from a set-up standpoint, we have a blast putting the event on, and it pays dividends year after year when we see 1000+ mud-spattered kids dancing, singing, and smiling while they cheer each other on; they might try to fool us, but adolescents aren’t always mad at the world, and this is one such occasion.
But as is often the case, the good comes with the bad: sadly, I must report that our longtime mascot, friend, and companion—Dagger—passed away last Thursday after a brief fight with cancer. She will certainly be missed and not soon forgotten, but as she took her final few breaths she laid contentedly amongst many of those that were closest to her, on her favorite bed. I’d like to think that she’s gone to keep her dad in line, and knowing Robert, will likely be used to startle others (“Where’s that cat?!” or “armadillo” being common catchphrases to goad her into action) as he was always so fond of mischievously doing.
Although there tends to be a little of both in the world—heartache and joy—I heard long ago that you can’t have a rainbow without first having the rain. We celebrate Dagger’s life, just as we celebrate all of the fun and success that was achieved at XC this past weekend, and look forward to this coming weekend’s Run for Jane in Isle of Hope (an absolutely stunning course, if you’ve never been out that way). Please come join us on Saturday at 8am, and in the meantime, please be sure to take the time to enjoy all that life has to offer…one step at a time.
- Chris Ramsey