Cross Country in Central Ohio
Fall is upon us and it’s one of my favorite times of the year, Central Ohio Cross Country teams from all over take to grass courses. Out of all the events we provide timing services for, from road races, to duathlons and track/field, I love cross country the most.
For those who have never been to a cross country meet, you need to go. Typically there are 4 events (divided by gender and school level), girls and boys Middle School, girls and boys High School. They are run separately because the middle school events are a two miles trail and the high school events are a 5k. The atmosphere is great. Many of the courses are created on school grounds which leads to some very fun and interactive courses that meander through school property. This fun courses allow for spectators to view a great deal of the course. Spectators are made up of young siblings, parents and grandparents- all cheering on their runner.
What most people who have never been to a cross country event find most interesting is the start of each event. Because all cross-country events are timed on gun time (there are no start mats), the teams lineup in “boxes” and along a line across the field. The more teams there are, the crazier it gets. When the gun goes off, teams and their runner’s race for the first turn. There can be a lot of jostling and pushing along the way to make sure you are ahead. If you are unlucky to get caught in the pack, working your way back up to the front of the pack can be a very arduous process.
The Finish Line
At the finish, because cross country is a team sport, times are not important but rather your finish position. Runners will try and pass as many runners ahead of them as they can. The lowest team placing is the winner and the first 5 count. For instance, if your team finished in position 1-5-10-11-20 your total team score would be 47. While another team who finished 2-3-4-18-30 would have a team score of 57. I’s imperative to move up in the lineup and for coaches to make sure the kids understand this as they try to calculate where their kids are in the standings until the final scores are revealed.