Sack Race

I saw an advert last night while watching Warehouse 13. Rather, I was fast forwarding through the adverts and saw a clip of Mo Farah in a sack race. I have no idea what he was advertising I was just reminded of some cunning shenanigans of primary school sports day.

I was at primary school in the 70s and early 80s. This was in the days when:

  • There were 3 channels on television
  • TV only started at 4 in the afternoon
  • Telephones could only be used to phone people and were attached to the wall
  • My phone number was 3 digits long
  • The height of television cool was The Rockford Files
  • Wrestling wasn’t American
  • A space-hopper was the toy of choice
  • BMX was new
  • The bike of choice was the Chopper
  • You had to be home by dinner time
  • AIDS hadn’t happened
  • The people trying to kill us were from Ireland
  • I actually spent quite a lot of time scared of being killed in a nuclear war and I worried about the end of civilisation

Oops, that went quite heavy! Perhaps I’ll enlighten you another time with tales of growing up in the cold war.

Anyway, this communication is mostly about primary school. I can vaguely remember a few things from primary school. It was always sunny [confirmation bias], we would quite happily wear shorts for school, I had a giggling fit in the 3rd year after either Matthew or I farted.

Primary School sports day: I don’t remember being involved a great deal. I never really enjoyed playing or watching sports as a child and I think I probably did it because we had to. During sports lessons there was a small group of us who would wait behind in the changing rooms while the rest of the class went on to the field and then we would go to the playground and tell the teacher there that we had been sent to play basketball. I have no idea if our teacher was aware of this, if he was then he never said, perhaps it was worth it for us to not be in the football practice.

Finally we get to the point where I refer to the sack race. Every year we would have a sack race as part of the annual “embarrass those who are unfit or fat” day. The idea is that you climb into a potato sack and then jump as fast as you can along a 60 metre track. This is shown on the television advert. This is also a very inefficient way to travel, but I guess being good at it is useful if you are captured and kept in a sack.

The technique to win, which has always stuck with me, is to put your feet in the corners of the sack and then run as normally as you can. The first time I saw this I was amazed. It was a boy in the year above me called Jon Sheekey [spelling probably wrong]. He lived down the Chelmsford Road and also had part of a pencil lead stuck in his hand [the things you remember!]. Jon put his feet into the corners of the sack and then ran, he was a pretty fast runner anyway, and he won the race by about half the length of the track. Sheer genius!