Natural selection shakes a leg

Today I was a spectator at my daughter’s (not sports day) inter-school championships. Only the elite Key Stage 1 pupils were selected to attend (those being 6 & 7 year olds in case you were wondering). The setting, an athletics track with proper infield, was fine. What unfolded in front of us was somewhat bewildering, appearing to be the bastard one night stand progeny of The Krypton Factor and It’s a Knockout. Not a nick I would recommend incidentally.

I spent an awful long time feeling smug I had remembered both my glasses (for distance) and the digi cam (posterity), and just as long squinting across the track trying to locate my own flesh amongst the myriad of throwing, hopping, jumping and counting, yes counting, challenges the teams were facing. This took well over an hour. I have no clue what they were doing. I interrogated my daughter this evening, she had no clue either.  During this lull of confusion there was a lot of murmuring in the crowd about running, where was the running??? It seems, not unreasonably, if you attend an athletics track, you want to see some track and not just field action.

So I thought about this a bit and seemed to me to be a deep-seated need to see some 6 & 7 year olds running, not just a bit of a spectacle. Then I thought about how I spend a lot of my time thinking about, or trying to watch horses racing and I wondered why I do that and how it makes me feel. I don’t mean gambling either, I can still separate the two out! After I while I concluded that running must form some part of our genetic inheritance way back, for it to arouse such gut responses. At which point I cannot organise my thoughts further other to point you in the direction of this excellent article which suggests that “running is one of the most transforming events in human history”. It summed up eruditely what I was vaguely pondering anyway.

Olympian Jesse Owens in 1948 staged one of his races against a horse to raise money. Credit: Associated Press

Olympian Jesse Owens in 1948 staged one of his races against a horse to raise money. Credit: Associated Press

Posted on June 24, 2009, in Horse racing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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