Ben ran last year in elementary school in their one mile races and he always did just fine. Staying about the middle of the pack, no biggie. Something happened since last fall, because he quickly started to amaze us with how fast he was running the two mile races this year. He also made varsity three of the six meets, and consistently finished in the top 20-30% of all 350ish middle school boys running. And we were all, "Wait, what?" Once he got a taste of being a good runner I think he liked it. A lot. He worked very hard to continuously improve. Love him.
Also, we got to take two kids who are good friends with Emma and Ben to most of the meets with us. I think there are not many things more fun than listening to a van full of young teenagers chatter and laugh on the way to a cross country meet. I could listen in forever. They were fun, funny, encouraging and awesome. Love those kids. Bonus: I would always bring a dinner-on-the-go for the runners to eat on the way to the meet. Our garden has been producing a nonstop bounty of green beans (which our kids love to eat raw) so I would always bring along a bagful of those too. One of our friend passengers was heard to remark (not sarcastically, mind you), "I love riding in the Cruzes' van, there's always these delicious green beans!" Wish I had a photo of that!