By Chloe Guo Yitian (21SO3D), Girls’ Captain and Chai Jiacheng (21SO7B), Boys’ Captain
Humans have been running throughout history. The first hunter-gatherers ran after their prey. The first Olympics held in Ancient Greece had running as its only sport. Running is essentially the most fundamental of all sports. People from all walks of life run—for leisure, for fitness or competitively.
At Raffles Institution Cross Country (RIXC), we fall into the last category, which, frankly, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. We endure gruelling trainings three times a week, which can involve sprinting to meet target timings till our lungs feel like bursting, wrangling kilometres along the one-wrong-step-and-your-ankle’s-gone Macritchie terrain, or running laps around a ~250m small field for 60 minutes or more when COVID-19 prevented us from training outside of school. We do this all while braving the heat of the Singapore sun (those singlet tan lines aren’t going away anytime soon!). Is it painful? Yes. Is it boring? Sometimes— *cough* 250m field *cough*. Is running all we do for training? Pretty much, with the addition of some exercises. Hmm, perhaps the first sentence of this paragraph is a little bit of an understatement—there is, after all, a quote that goes: “Running is a mental sport—and we’re all insane”.
There is, however, a method to our madness. Cross country is more than just a CCA. It’s almost like a lifestyle. You could dread your workouts for days prior to training but finishing a hard workout is utterly satisfying. Not only will you feel an immense sense of satisfaction knowing you pulled through absolute hell during those 20 to 30 minutes of intervals, you will also get the rare chance to appreciate how good plain water actually tastes. And a blast of endorphins too! Although sometimes you don’t feel it and just crash when you get home. At the end of the day, you realise that tough runs don’t last, but tough runners do.
We put in a lot of training outside of CCA time, too. Occasionally, we would have gym sessions and easy run sessions on Thursdays too, but these would be much more relaxed and fun because there would be no target timings to stress about. Moreover, because running takes such a huge toll on our energy levels, we have to learn to manage our time effectively so that we can sleep more to recover from our gruelling training sessions. Cross Country is a very tiring sport, and requires a whole lot of commitment.
But let’s not forget that the best part of all is the camaraderie we build as a team. The memories we’ve made pulling each other through the toughest of workouts and the conversations punctuated by tired breaths during cool down runs will stay with us for a long time to come. Our teachers-in-charge, Ms June Tan, Mr Teo Hui Koon, Ms Esther Lee, and our coach, Mr Lim Kien Mau, are our pillars of support and guidance. Running may be an individual sport, but we wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of our tight-knit RIXC family of both the teachers and students.
So, if you have a passion for pounding the pavement and working your bum off, we’ll welcome you to the team with open arms. Just a warning though, it’s gonna be a tough ride, so make sure you’re ready to take up the challenge. Trainings are on Monday and Wednesday afternoons in school and on Saturday mornings at either Macritchie or Bedok Reservoir (that is, if the COVID-19 situation permits us to train at out-of-school venues. If not, the aforementioned 250m field it is!).
Cross country is definitely not an easy sport. It requires grit, sacrifice and a high endurance threshold. But should you choose to join us, you will walk out of RI two years later a stronger, more resilient version of yourself. And who wouldn’t want that?