The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many difficulties for children, particularly school closures and the suspension of organised sport and fitness activities...
Even since schools have reopened, inter-school competitions have been scarce if not completely impossible to organise and run which has left a cohort of young people unable to represent their school in a sporting sense for a year and a half.
To offer schools an opportunity to rekindle their competitive spirit, Cambridge United Community Trust organised the Race Across the World event.
Inspired by similar house-style competitions in secondary schools, Race Across the World challenges children, school staff and families to engage in as much sport and physical activity as possible during a week long period.
Once the activity has been completed, individuals can upload what they’ve done onto a simple form and an algorithm calculates the total kilometres travelled in total by each school, for each day. This number is then plotted onto a world map with a radius around a starting point to discover how far each school travelled each day, with the winning school being named on day eight as the school that had travelled the furthest.
Cambridge United Community Trust first ran this tournament in March, with four local schools participating, and then again in May, against schools representing the community organisations of Norwich City, Watford and Colchester United.
It was Cambridge-based school, Girton Glebe, that took the crown for both competitions, travelling an impressive 6639km to Kisumu, Kenya on their first attempt and a whopping 16734km to Byron Bay, Australia on their second.
Their whole journey for both competitions, along with the journeys of all of the other schools, can be seen on CUCT’s website by clicking here.
The school's commitment to the competition was admirable as staff and pupils reconfigured their own healthy lifestyles week to coincide with the competition. Community Trust Primary Education Manager, Ash Dyer caught up with Year Six pupils Joe and Merryn to find out more about their secret to success.
"I roller skated, scooted and pogo sticked to school every day. I had never pogo sticked before, but now I can travel around 100 metres in four goes," Merryn’s said.
“I made sure that I did around 10,000 steps each day, and I went out for quite a few bike rides over the weekend," Joe added.
As well as the obvious health benefits of exercise, the children also enjoyed learning about new places on the world map.
Merryn explained how the class would research the places that they had travelled to each day, with Joe adding, "I liked that we ended up on a beach at the end - it felt like a party to celebrate!
"When we knew we had won it was really exciting, as we were losing on the Friday." Merryn wrapped up the discussion with “Everyone went super crazy over the weekend. It motivated us to do more than we normally would!"
It wasn’t just the children that were engrossed in this challenge, as the school’s PE Coordinator, Marion Barber explained, "It galvanised our staff to communicate positively via our WhatsApp group over the weekend and meant that as a team we were very inspired by each other. It was the best bit of whole school team building we have done for a long time!”
Another class teacher added, "My class were so excited by this both times and won't stop asking me if there will be a third round! It really was a great initiative for both kids and staff to get everybody moving, so thank you."
Looking to add to their haul of victories, Girton are keen to see what the future holds for Race Across the World. Could there be a future competition featuring schools from other countries? Watch this space!