Cross Country season is upon us and that means shorter meets and hopefully, cooler temperatures. If this is your first time having a cross country runner in the family you are in for a wild ride. Here are a few things that you need to know about cross country meets that are different from track and field.
Cross country meets are generally short. You and your athlete will likely need to be at the meet for less than four hours. Many meets offer a course walk-through before the first race. This is more common at youth events than high school meets. The meet information sheet will list a time for the walk-through. If you choose to take part in the walk-through, please arrive at least 10 to 15 minutes before the scheduled walk-through time to give yourself time to park and find the coaches. You are not required to attend the walk-through, but it can be helpful if your athlete has never run the course before.
The cross country meet schedule will list the race time for each age group. Sometimes, the meet directors will allow the races to run 15 to 30 minutes early. You should plan to arrive 1.0 to 1.5 hours before your race time to warm-up and stretch. Make sure to talk to you coach about arrival times to make sure that you have ample time to get your bib, gather with your teammates and talk to your coaches before you run.
Some cross country meets will require the athletes to check-in with race officials at the start line before the race begins. If check-in is required, information regarding check-in procedures will be provided by the coaches and/or meet information sheet. Check-in is typically required at State, Regional and National meets.
Cross country meets for youth and high school have different race distances depending on a runners age. These are:
2K (2ooo meters) 8 & under runners
3K (3000 meters) 9-12 year old runners
4K (4000 meters) 13-14 year old runners
5K (5000 meters) 15-18 year old runners and all high school runners
What to Bring
One nice thing about cross country meets is that you do not need much stuff. Since you will only be there for a few hours, drinks for you and your runner, pre- and post-race snacks and your running shoes. Yes, parents will need to jog from spot to spot on the course if you want to see your runners go by.
I hope this helps new parents get ready for their first meet. If you are a seasoned parent, drop by the comments and let us now your favorite tips for getting ready for the first cross country meet of the season.