More than 1,500 elementary school students from Simcoe County and Muskoka are running for gold at the Simcoe County Cross Country Running Championships at Mount St. Louis Moonstone today.
The top two teams from each area, plus the next best 12 overall teams, sent athletes from each age group to today’s event. There were 100 to 150 students running in each race.
Joe Forte, a convener for the races and teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School, says the energy at Mount St. Louis Moonstone today was all positive.
“At the end of the day this is about fun,” he said. “It’s about getting the kids out and being active.”
Forte says cross country running is an important sport for local youth.
“Athletics, in general, are vitally important,” he said. “We have athletes who don’t intend to qualify for countys but do cross country as a training method.”
Being physically active is an important way to keep a healthy mind and body, Forte says.
“I hope these kids learn sportsmanship through this,” he said. “I hope they understand the whole idea that sport is here to teach you to be a better person.”
Forte says whether students finish in first place or at the end of the pack, the lesson should be the same.
“There should be some humility and pride that you are one of around 1,000 kids in all of Simcoe County who has qualified for this meet,” he said. “They should all be proud of that and it should help them be better people.”
While the race is all for fun, Forte admits some racers are ultra-competitive.
“Some of them are out here stretching and checking out the course right from the beginning,” he said. “It’s such a big event and there is a big range of highly competitive to not so competitive.”
Forte says there is a lot of parity in who crosses the finish line first each year.
“In our area, there are the teams that always seem to win,” he said. “But it has changed hands from year to year and it’s pretty even out there.”
Gavin Evenhuis, a Forest Hill Public School (Midhurst) student, won the Grade 5 boys' race on Wednesday afternoon.
"I didn't think I was going to come in first when I came here today," he said. "I was happy and excited that I won."
Evenhuis says he has put a lot of time and effort into training for today's race over the past two months.
"I really wanted to do good," he said. "I really like running and having fun with my friends."
Evenhuis says the highlight of the day was sharing his victory with his mom at the finish line.
"She was really happy that I won," he said. "She was excited for me."
Nevia Blake, a student from St. Michael the Archangel Catholic School in Barrie, won the Grade 6 girls' race today.
"I had hoped I would win today," she said. "I honestly didn't expect to though."
When Blake crossed the finish line first, she was overjoyed with excitement.
"It feels good to win," she said. "Especially with my mom and dad here today."
Forte thanks the teachers, principals, and vice principals who helped organize the event today.
For live results from today's races, click here.