Now we spend most of our fall Saturdays (and some late afternoon weekdays) traveling around to our daughter's meets. I have found it to be quite fun to scream my fool head off in support of our daughter and her teammates. Even though it's a fairly new program at her high school (third year of varsity status after a few years of being a club sport), there are some really good runners on the team. The fastest boy and fastest girl made All-State last year!
I promote the sport to those who say their kid isn't quite cut out for team sports like football and basketball. Cross country is a team sport, of course, but along with helping one's team finish as high as it can overall, each runner also tries for PR's (personal records).
Here's a few scenes from Saturday's meet:
In the above photo, the girls' race is getting ready to start. Preparation the day of the meet begins well before the starting time - the teams will have arrived an hour or so in advance to walk the course. Unlike sports that play on fields that look very much alike, each cross country course is different. Some are relatively flat but others have challenging hills. The courses may be located in a park, in the meadows and/or woods next to a high school,on land owned by a sportsman's club, and so on.
Here's an example of a hill:
It may not look that steep, but trust me, it was steep enough to be challenging! And the runners had to go up it twice! It was quite hot and humid in the sun too. Some kids really attacked that hill, but others looked like they were taking it at a crawl.
Our daughter's team hadn't been to this course before, so I asked her later what she thought when she first saw that hill. She told me it was no big deal; she'd run up worse hills than that before. Great attitude! :)
You can see the spectators lined up all the way to the top of the hill. If the course is fairly compact (the 5K distance will be made up by repeating certain sections of the course), my husband and I will try to run from mile marker to mile marker to get the runners' times and encourage our daughter and her teammates as they go by.
Above you can see the race in action; the runners are getting ready to turn into the woods and go up the hill.
And here's the finish line, which happened to be inside the football stadium of the host high school. The boys on our daughter's team finished 4th in their division and the girls finished 3rd. That 3rd place finish earned them a trophy, which was nice.
And so it begins. The season goes through Nov. 5th. In these parts, we could have 85 degree weather during some meets - or 35 degrees! But hot or cold, it's a great sport and we're very proud of our daughter for doing it.