Yesterday was the neighborhood elementary school's annual "Endurance Race". The school (and others around Japan) has been doing this since education began. As can be expected, some kids enjoy this but a lot do not.
It was an cold day yesterday. All of the parents that turned out to cheer on their progeny wore fluffy down coats and mufflers that hid their faces. The kids were in gym shorts and t-shirts and stood at the starting line shivering!
"On your mark! Get set! Go!"
The first and second graders went around the school yard and then out the back of the school, along the roadside and back in the front gate (the first graders got a bit of a head start.)
A teacher brought up the end and when all those children had returned, the third and fourth graders took off with the bang of a starting gun. The third and fourth graders had to make TWO laps out of the back of the school, along the roadside and back in the front gate. My English student Soichiro made a star run coming in way ahead of everyone else! (He is usually not much of a star in other endeavors.)
The same teacher brought up the end of that group and when all those children returned, the fifth and sixth graders pounded around the yard and then had to do THREE laps out the back, along the road and back in the front. The very last girl over the finish line walked the last two laps and she was NOT a happy runner despite the fact that all the parents cheered her on and the same teacher trailing behind her kept up a running patter of encouragement.
"Come on K-chan! We're almost there! Don't give up! Yeah K-chan!"
As they turned the corner to go back into the school a little kindergartner, come to watch an older sibling, yelled out.
"Yeah Teacher! Don't give up!"
I guess so! That poor teacher ran the whole track 6 times. Albeit at the slowest child's pace...