Beginners Guide to Race Day
If you or your child have not raced before, have a look at this fantastic guide written by Dave Esler, one of our experienced coaches. If you have any more questions, please ask your coach at training.
So it has arrived, hopefully your young athletes(s) are full of enthusiasm and energy in anticipation of their race! It can be a daunting and confusing experience for them and you as a parent/carer especially if this is your first experience of this type of event. This guide will give you some practical tips.
Your child will have been entered in to the event a couple of weeks previously and you will have confirmed with their pack coach/team manager that they are participating. The events are usually on Saturdays or Sundays. In general the youngest age group races first often with boys and girls racing separately. Most details of all events such as location, course maps, timing, travel and parking are available on the Scottish Athletics website.
On the day preparation is the key. You may have other children going to other events/activities, so make life a bit easier for yourself! Think about car sharing, but remember the other youngsters you car share with may be in a different age category and starting at a different time. Enlist your young athlete in the preparation, it is good for them to start taking responsibility for what to wear, making sure their shoes are serviceable etc. The last thing you need is to discover that kit is still in the washing machine and the training shoes/spikes have been lying outside in the rain for a week. You should also consider how many layers of clothing you and any spectators are taking!
Arrive early. The coaches will have given an indication of what time they expect everyone to meet. Allow time for travel and finding parking. It is likely that the parking will be a short distance from the start line. On arrival look for the Garscube gazebo, it should be among the other club tents. There you will find coaches, parents and athletes. Let the coach know you have arrived, they will give you your child’s number and confirm what team they are in if it is a relay. If it is a relay event they will have the same number as their team mates who are running the other legs.
As mentioned above the athletes will have been entered a few days or weeks earlier. Things can happen, injuries or illness can occur. It is vitally important that you let the club and or coaches know if your child becomes unavailable. The club pay for many of the race entry fees and if it is a relay event it is has an impact on the organisation of team. If your child has been entered and you have confirmed, it will be assumed on the day that they are participating. Team managers have to “declare” about 30-40 minutes prior to that start of a race. This is the last chance to confirm who is racing and what the teams are in a relay.
Okay, now you can relax, you have delivered the athlete to the venue. Get yourself a coffee and find a good spot to spectate. Your child will probably have abandoned you by now and will be bonding with their club/team mates. Their coach or perhaps one of the older kids will take them on a walk around the course. This is important, even if they have run in that event before, the route may have changed, the conditions will certainly be different. This is another reason why it is good to arrive early so that your child can participate in this with their team mates. They will also be encouraged to participate in a warm up prior to their event.
As race start time approaches they will be ushered to the start. This can be a bit scary as there is often a big crowd. Lots of support, smiles and encouragement will be helpful. And…off they go. Now you have some work to do, most cross country courses comprise of loops and zig zags. You should be able to find a spot that you can shuttle back and forth from giving you multiple opportunities to encourage your young athlete. It is also great if you can shout on other team/club mates, even if you don’t know their names just shout on Garscube! In a relay event the coaches will explain to the kids how and where the handover occurs. They will be there to ensure that goes smoothly. At the finish line they will high as a kite, tired, elated, muddy, wet, happy, sad, angry or any combination of the above. Let them recover, blow off steam etc. The great thing about team events is that the other youngsters are so supportive of each other no matter what the outcome, and you should be too.
After your athlete has finished there is still supporting to be done. It is really great if you can stay a bit longer and support the older juniors. Your youngster will have seen these older kids training on club nights and hopefully heard of their successes. It is good and inspiring to see them performing in race conditions. There may even be some national or international stars competing, potential for selfies and autographs!?
So the dust and mud has settled. Your young athlete has just participated in a tough and challenging event, they have been flying the flag for their club, Garscube Harriers. No matter the outcome they and you should be proud of that achievement. A lot of the above sounds a bit serious. In order for the event to run smoothly and for you to have a positive experience there has to be some direction. The organisation, preparation and time management involved are useful skills for your youngster to begin learning and will benefit other aspects of their and your busy lives.
Having said all that it is important to remember that this is supposed to be fun and a positive experience for you all! What’s next? Hopefully inspired they will be keen to enter more events. The coaches will keep you and they informed directly, by email and via the website. Please keep us informed by return. It’s really helpful to hear from you even if it’s to let us know that your youngster is not available for a particular event.
Finally, we enjoy helping your youngsters train and perform. Any and all types of assistance from you the parents and carers is always appreciated in helping us all achieve that goal.
- Race info (location/arrival time)
- Warm clothes (hoody/leggings/jogging trousers)
- Wellies/Walking boots
- Bottle of water
- Garscube Vest
- Safety Pins x 4 (if you don’t have any, someone at the race will provide them)
- Training shoes/Spikes
- Change of clothes (t-shirt/leggings/shorts/socks)
- Old towel
- Bin Bag (for wet/dirty kit)
- Money (often hot drinks for sale)
- Food and drink
When you get home, be sure to clean your kit and make sure your training shoes/spikes are ready for your next race!