Both the BYU men’s and women’s cross country teams held their annual triple crown race for Utah Valley elementary school students on Sept. 24. Kids ranging in age from first grade to sixth grade gathered at the Clarence F. Robison Track and Field Complex to compete in a fun one-mile race.
The elementary schools that participate compete every year for the honor of winning the triple crown trophy, as the school that wins not only gets bragging rights but also gives the kids the possibility of the trophy being displayed in their school. The children are excited at the chance of running alongside a D1 athlete, with the hope of replicating that athlete almost perfectly.
“It’s an opportunity to give back to the community,” women’s head coach Patrick Shane said. “Many of the children at that age level can benefit from learning to exercise, so why not make it a fun adventure with experienced athletes?”
The little kids love to get out and reveal their raw talent in the one-mile race, where they also learn to display healthy and passionate competition skills.
Throughout the race onlookers could hear encouraging words pass from child to child. The atmosphere of racing can be intense at the collegiate level, but both the men’s and women’s teams love being part of an event like this because it brings back past feelings and emotions toward their younger and more innocent days of less intense competition.
Jared Ward, a former BYU Cougar and teammate, said, “It’s so fun to get around these young kids who are excited about the sport.” Ward felt that the kids “showed excitement and ran with a little bit of an adrenaline rush, knowing that they were competing in front of a crowd and for the triple crown trophy.”
The BYU cross country teams, in an effort to share the joy of running, created a racecourse filled with an atmosphere of inspiration from one athlete to another. The runners were looking to the elementary kids to be uplifted and rekindle the love of the sport, while the younger kids looked to the Cougars for insight and influence. Overall, the impression left behind was positive and concrete.
Around this time next year the Cougars will continue the tradition of the triple crown race, giving yet another school the possibility of getting the coveted trophy displayed in its school hallway.