Last night my husband, kids and I headed to the Somersault Awards evening. Anyone who has run in Ottawa has probably at some point participated in a Somersault Race. The tagline for their series is “Events for Everyone…From Start to Finish”, a very fitting statement. In a race series that starts with the Winterman in February and ends with the Fall Colours in October, Somersault offers almost year round events. And while the number of events they hold is impressive, perhaps even more so is the number of different types of races you can do. They have the standard distances plus 1k kiddie races, and 3k and 8k races to help runners build up to a longer race. They have triathlons and duathlons plus kayak and canoe multisport events of varying distances. If I get up the nerve to try a duathlon next year, it will be at a Somersault event.
The series also offers a Championship Challenge. This is a point system that allows you to see how you are doing in your age category. At the end of the the season, if you have participated in a minimum of three races you can see your final ranking.
The top three in each category receive awards. This was the first year that Evan could qualify for the challenge, having moved up to the 3k and 5k distances. He was thrilled to find out that not only was he second in the males 13 and under category, he was also the second place overall junior male. This is an amazing accomplishment for a boy who is not a natural runner. And if that sounds a bit harsh, Evan agrees 100% with that statement. He knows that he has improved his running through hard work and perseverance and he also knows that there will always be lots of runners naturally faster than him. But when Evan decides to do something, good luck trying to distract him from his goal. This can be both an amazing character trait in a 10 year old boy and one that can make a parent want to tear their hair out! But in this case we are so proud of Evan. He made a decision this year that he wanted to improve his running and he has exceeded his goals!
My boys have been participating in Somersault races for four years now. That is literally half of Luke’s life! They started in the 1k runs with either Mike or I taking them by the hand and coaxing them along the route. Adults are invited to run for free with their children and for a minimal price the kids get their registration,a t-shirt and medal and post race food. I often joke that I haven’t bought my kids new t-shirts in years – they virtually live in Somersault race shirts. These kid-oriented, fun races (along with a great running program at their school) are what helped develop my kids’ love of running. Another wonderful thing about this race series is once your kids move into the 3k or 5k races, as students they receive a 40% discount, making the runs much more affordable than many of the “bigger”events.
A few weeks ago I emailed Terry and Christine McKinty, the organizers of Somersault, to thank them for the great season and to let them know that their races were part of the reason that Evan chose to organize his own Fun Run for his friends. You can read about that race here. He was able to organize this race because of what he has learned participating in the Somersault series. I thought it was important for Terry and Christine to know that they were influencing the younger generation in such a positive way.
Christine got back to me to let me know how happy she was to hear about Evan’s race. But here is where this story becomes more powerful. Unbeknownst to me, Terry was dealing with some medical issues at the time I sent the email. He in fact had not yet seen my email and Christine decided to keep it from him. She asked me if we would mind sharing Evan’s story at the awards ceremony as a surprise for Terry, giving him the opportunity to see first hand that all of his hard work is making a wonderful impact on the youth who participate in his events. So last night Mike got up and told about Evan’s “Halloween Fun Run” and Terry was asked to present to Evan a “Junior Race Director” award. How wonderful to see an experienced race director pass on an award to a 10 year old who pulled together his own race. And what an example of how we can all have such powerful influences on the lives of others, often without even realizing it. I know Terry, Christine and the Somersault crew have made a positive impact on my kids, I hope that it has come full circle and that Evan’s enthusiasm for the sport has shown them that what they do is worthwhile.
Thank you Somersault and see you at the Winterman race in February!