Personal Stories

Running Though School

By: A. Wayne McFarlane

Winston Churchill in writing about his difficulties of going through school with a learning disability claimed, "It is not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclass and left behind at the beginning of the race." With my dyslexia I often felt that way in the classroom but never at the starting line of a cross-country or track meet. Running helped me get through school.

In Ottawa at Ridgemont High School, yes where I had fast times, I always looked forward to the Canadian Thanksgiving week. Monday I was away for Thanksgiving and on Friday I was away from school running at a cross-country meet. After a month of feeling I was the student with the poorest results in some of my classes it was a great boost to my ego to come in the top twenty out of one hundred and twenty runners. My self esteem was boosted again when my classmates told me how great my running results were after I got back to the classroom.

In the spring I took part in track where I never won a race, but still enjoyed being part of a team and competing.

After I graduated from high school i was accepted to little Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. Trent University had a track team and the two runners who made up the team were good guys but, when I found out about the track team I was in the middle of trying out for the varsity rugby team. My distance running helped me be prepared for rugby. Being only five-eight, it was important to be fast. My endurance was good. I could run hard from the opening kickoff to when the self-center referee finally blew the game ending whistle. I work hard at my studies and got average marks. Playing rugby and running to stay in shape gave me time away from my books and a time where I was not worrying about school.

In my last few months at Trent University I decided to see if I could get into a Bachelor of Education program. Many people did not believe any school would accept me but, for some reason the University of Windsor did. When I got there my thinking was, "If I was accepted into a Bachelor of Education program, why should I not go out for one of Canada's best university track programs."

Even though I was onthe "B" team running at the University of Windsor, it was great. The facility and coaching were first class. The road races and track meets were fun.

As I stated I never felt completely outclassed at the starting line of arace, even when I was. One Saturday the Windsor Track team went to an indoor track meet in a suburb of Detroit. There I ran my first and only race against runners with athletic scholarships. In the 3000 meter where I was enter to race there were runners from Notre Dame and Michigan State at the starting line. During the race I was right beside the Notre Dame and Michigan State runners on the seventh and 12th lap, as they lapped me. I had no problem being a student "also ran" athlete.

The best thing about running for the University of Windsor was my teammates. I met and ran with a lot of accomplished athletes who were caring and fun. They took an interest in me and my studies. I remember doing a six mile training run. I felt we were going at a quick pace but, I really felt strong, not getting tired at all. A teammate running beside me said, "Wayne, there is something different about you today?"

Then there was this five second pause.

Then my teammate continue with, "That's it, your running fast!"

Some days in it was hard work but, I could always look forward to track practice.

In all my schooling running never made me a star or anywhere near a national team. It did help me meet a lot of great people and in some way achieve my goals od gaining two degrees.