Running.  For those who don’t run, it seems like a chore.  “You actually choose to run for fun?” is an all too common question from those who have not yet given it a try.  For those who are learning to run, training to become better runners or expert runners, this sport simply can’t be described in words.  The rush of beating old personal records, seeing your team members cheer you on as you slug through the rain, snow, and heat is an experience that is not easily forgotten.  Over the past few years, the IICS Middle School and High School Cross Country running teams have become a bit of a novelty as record number of students are choosing to sign up and commit to hard work and training.  

On November 12-16, our teams traveled to the annual CEESA Cross Country Tournament hosted in Kiev, Ukraine.  The IICS Middle School Girls’ Team won second place at this tournament and our combined teams won the Sportsmanship trophy!

While this type of competition is a rich experience for everyone involved, including coaches, perhaps no group of runners felt more on top of the world then our energetic bunch of sixth graders!  Being the youngest on the team does not mean much in terms of cross country.

Below are some of the reflections from first time sixth graders who were part of the team in Kiev.

CEESA was a great opportunity to show what you go for, to get to know the people in your team and extend your limits. Cross country CEESA in Kiev this year gave me an experience I have never felt before. The experience of when you felt like you really did something for your team. We came second place and every single person in our team made that happen. Seeing your team cheer for you just like you did to them made you take that last boost at the end. Everyone fought to the last drop of blood. That’s when you can feel proud entering the finish line.Alice F.

Alice F. was our second place winner!

CEESA is a great opportunity for you to show off your skills and have the time of your life! You build your relationship with your team and it makes you become a better sportsman. You stay with a nice family and have fun with them. The first day we explored Kiev and visited beautiful sights. The next day was the run. Our team ran like we’ve never ran before, slipping, bleeding, running out of breath, destroying the hill, and putting in that final sprint. We did even better the next race. But nothing– and I mean nothing– feels better than passing that finish line, team cheering like crazy, tired, relieved, and most of all, proud. Qais M.

CEESA was a great way to get to know other people’s skills and get to know them better. You also get to have friends from another family. I have never went to CEESA before so it was a very nice experience for me. It was so nice to hear your team cheer for you and think you could do it. The first day when we went to Kiev we took a quick tour of their amazing town. The second and third days we had races. We were awesome and we improved a lot. The thing I enjoyed most was crossing the finish line and being proud of myself. Selin K.