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Cross country runner spends summer in Africa

Originally published in the September 10, 2010 issue

While the transition from small hometown of Polo, Ill., to Peoria was “a welcome change” for senior cross-country runner Brian Tyne, the transition between Peoria and Cape Town, South Africa, had some bumps.

Unlike those who spent the summer on a couch or in a car, Bryan Tyne spent a good chunk of his summer teaching children in South Africa. All of this is part of his senior year on the Hilltop.

The flight overseas was just about as rigorous as you would think trans-global transportation would be.  While his flight from Chicago to London was delayed a day, he did have some free time.

“I had a nine-hour layover in London, so I was able to go out and see the sights,” he said. ”Then the flight from London to Cape Town was 12 hours straight.”

The 12-hour flight may not have been the most arduous aspect of the trip.

“There weren’t as many McDonald’s there,” Tyne said.  “Fountain pop, I missed that. I didn’t have a cell phone, either.”

After getting over the jetlag and the lack of American amenities, Tyne got down to the fun part: teaching.

“I was pretty much a gym teacher,” he said. “It was just like a normal school over there. The first two weeks we did dancing, and it actually turned out to be a lot of fun.” 

Tyne went on to teach the fourth to seventh graders how to dance to “Wakka Wakka”by Shakira,  the theme song to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

“Whenever they heard that song, they’d go crazy and start running around doing everything,” he said.

The shadow of the world’s biggest sporting event still loomed largely over South Africa after Spain had already won it all.

“I got there like four days after the World Cup ended,” Tyne said. “I got a few vuvezelas.”

In the U.S., the biggest sporting event may be the Super Bowl or the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Tyne said they all paled in comparison to the World Cup.

“You can’t comprehend how big it is over there. All the kids had South Africa jerseys and everywhere you looked was a World Cup logo. “

His enjoyment for the kids is very clear whenever he speaks of them.

“The kids are exactly the same over there as they are over here,” he said.  “When you’re in fifth grade and think everything you do is cool. It’s fun to see.”

When asked if coaching was in his future, Brian responded with a smile. 

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “I love hanging with kids. I’ll coach my kid’s little league team.” 

Tyne, being a senior, does have the real world to look forward to, but he’s not going to let his senior year go by without making it special.

“Instead of it just being my last year, we also have the great new coaching staff and I want to get as much as I can out of them,” he said. “From here on out I can run the local 5K races, but it won’t mean as much. It’s my last meaningful running I’ll do. “

From running through the corn fields of Polo, the tracks all over the Midwest, to the fields of South Africa, Tyne is taking every chance to make sure that when he is done running his senior year, he’ll have done as much as possible. 

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