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The Night Before Cross Country


By Kristen Dedeaux

‘Twas the night before XC, thus begins our story
Not a runner was resting, not even Sir Torrey.
The singlets were hung from the clotheslines with care,
In hopes that by morning they’d be ready to wear.

The harriers were wide awake in their nests,
While visions of hay bales had them quite stressed.
And the captains and I, our teams lacking displacers,
Were wracking our brains for last-minute racers.

When out of the radio, on Portland’s only talk station,
Came a live broadcast to all Lizard Nation.
Right then I stopped pacing the room for a while,
Put down my roster, and adjusted the dial.
The host of that night’s new fall sports show
Welcomed someone all runners should know.

When, what should my eager ears hear,
But something to calm me and conquer all fear.
It was a familiar voice, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment, it must be Coach Rick.

More rapid than raptors, his bold words they came
And he whistled, and shouted, and called us by name.
“Now, Lizards! Now, Dragons! Now, Swifts from the West!
Be true to your team and give them your best.
Through the wind and the rain! Through the mud and the mire!
Now to battle! To glory! On your chariots of fire!

As warriors with their swords held high,
When you meet with an obstacle, kill it or die!
So scale that hill; go steady and don’t stop,
Saving your speed for that trail at the top.”

And then in the morning, I awoke in the dark
Battled the cold, and drove to the park.
As I approached the red tent, coffee called my name,
Jeff greeted me warmly, and I was glad that I came.

He wore a white hat, a bunch of bananas in hand
Like the friendly proprietor of a runner’s fruit stand.
At the two tables stood a team of volunteers,
Dedicated people, who’d been helping for years.

My eyes quickly darted, scanning the competition,
Many serious racers tinged with ambition.
And I knew, as I watched them do laps of the course,
I too could run that fast—had I rented a horse.

They were sinewy and svelte, built for speed and for stealth,
And I laughed when I saw them in spite of myself;
A flex of an arm, and a twist of a head
Soon made me realize I had much to dread.

All was silent at the start, a calm before the storm,
The runners took their marks, all in good form,
And Jacob, with his hand on the trigger
Made a gesture, with vim and with vigor.

And none could imagine such fury and commotion
When away the teams flew, bolts of lightning in motion.
Except for me, on that day, there was no Stumptown Run;
For somehow, somewhere, I’d missed the sound of the gun.

Happy Cross Country to all, and to all the volunteers a big thank you for helping to make this a most memorable Stumptown Cross! Your efforts are truly appreciated.

Warm Regards,
Captain K


One Response to “The Night Before Cross Country”

  1. Excellent Kristen! Well done!

    Posted by Jeff Malmquist | November 21, 2015, 4:03 pm

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