Omuro Elementary School was the third school the Peace Run team visited today. We made our way into their large gym.
Children showing us the different countries we represent.
The teachers were invited up to run one lap of the school hall with the torch while all the students cheered them on! The Principal loved it so much that he did a second lap with all the teachers following behind with great enthusiasm.
These students, along with being fantastic track and field competitors in the shorter distance, also compete in Ekiden, which is a distance road relay. Their teams and members often make it to national-level competitions.
Students trying to guess which country, they got it first time!
Representative from each school receiving a certificate of appreciation
To finish our activities of the day the students gave us a demonstration – on a somewhat smaller scale. 6 students would run together with the Peace Run torch and their tasuki – a sach they wear and have to pass to team members during Ekiden, instead of a baton. Tasuki is a sign of friendship.
They invited the Peace Runners to join the teams – and had even been practicing for a few hours to run slower for us!
To finish, their two top runners came up to thank us for coming. Both have Kyoto records in their respective distance. The girl in the 3km, in a time of 9:46 and the boy in the 800m in a time of 2:00. Once we heard their times we understood even more why they had to practice to run so slow!
What's surprising about these schools is that they are all public schools, and not special schools made for elite runners. So all the children are from the local area. The teachers told us that the biggest challenge is often to compete in the regional preliminaries, as this is where some of the strongest schools are concentrated. In fact, At Katsura-Higashi Elementary, the main organizer of today's event, their Track & Field Club has 80 members, from national level athletes to complete beginners, showing oneness among students of all levels.