Crisscrossed with knee-high boundaries of grass, the field stretched far below the hilltop. To the distant right, the sound of a fast-moving four-wheeler buzzed louder until I saw it speed toward the horizon, followed seconds later by a skinny-ing mass of runners.
Along with all the other camera-laden parents, I darted across the fields, staking strategic positions to capture my son rounding a corner or blazing down a hillside. I hurdled boulders, pushed through sluggish throngs, and catapulted my rattling, aging body from one carrefour of the course to another.
When my precious runner passed by, I whooped.
I scurried across the field to the next junction to cheer him on some more.
Hundreds of spectators gathered to watch the state middle school cross-country championship. Hundreds of kids flashed by. Yet within that undulating motley horde, I found and locked eyes with my son.
The corner of his mouth turned up when he saw me.
He gulped more air.
He lengthened his stride.
And I scurried to the next junction to cheer him on again . . . until I met him at the finish line, red-faced, gasping, and satisfied.