Track is back once again. It’s been three years of virtual meets – of sending scores in to an unknown entity and competing against no one. Today was the first local meet of Bucks County Special Olympics Track and Field competition held at Council Rock North’s football field since 2019.
The number of athletes was way down from pre-Covid years. The usual 600+ athletes were reduced to 200-some. The 100-piece C.R. North marching band was trimmed to a small ensemble of around twelve musicians. Our jocular announcer was the same but now spoke from a small amp with microphone, his voice being carried away from the stadium seats by a strong breeze. Usually, he announced from the press booth at the top of the stadium stairs – voice booming over the P.A. system and carrying into Newtown Borough.
It didn’t matter to Bryan. He saluted as usual while the Star-Spangled Banner played weakly, clutching the “Central Bucks” sign which he proudly carried in the opening parade announcing his training site.
His first race – the 800 meter racewalk – occurred right away at 10:30. Looking at the height of the three competitors, my heart sank. They were miles taller than Bry. Fortunately, two were in a different heat and he won this particular race handily.
From there it was on to the shotput where Bryan again tried his best. The form was excellent, but the shotput landed only a few feet away. Nevertheless, he came away with another gold medal.
And, then, the interminable wait. No lunch was offered this year, so we ran to the Farmer’s Market to buy Bryan and his roommate a fresh pulled-pork sandwich at the first pig roast of the season, hosted by the market. Even more delicious consumed al fresco!
The last race wasn’t until 2:00. By then Bryan’s interest had waned and his full belly demanded a nap on the field, along with his dad. After the 400 meter race, another gold medal adorned his chest – a gold metal hat trick for Bry!
One more change to the competition festivities disappointed him the most. Goodnoe’s Ice Cream Bar had closed during the pandemic – a place we had celebrated at after the Local for over thirty years with a peanut butter ripple cone smothered with chocolate jimmies. A Rita’s ” Reese’s Chocolate Dream Concrete” became an acceptable substitute.
Despite all the changes and differences in today’s meet, those who competed were thrilled to be back and, even if they didn’t win, they were “brave in the attempt”.