My kid’s track club had their first meet this weekend. They had a great first meet and got a look at some of their competition for the season. Luckily, this is season number eight for us so we are well prepared for the day with tents, chairs, food, drinks and equipment. But when you are first getting started, it can be intimidating to see everything that is going on and to figure out the schedule of events.
I asked my kids to tell me the most important things for new athletes and parents to know for their first meet and this is what they said.
- The day is going to be long. Most track meets take seven to 10 hours depending on how many athletes are entered and what events they are running. There are two types of schedules that a meet may follow. Many meets run on a rolling schedule where the start time for the first running event and an order list of the following events which proceed one after another. Meets often assign a start time and age group for the first group at each field event with a list of subsequent age groups that follow one after another. Other meets are set to a specific time schedule with a time assigned to each running or field event.
- It is going to get hot. Spring and summer track meets can start off at a comfortable temperature but soon get blazing hot, especially here in the south. Do your best to keep cool between events by using cooling next cloths and wraps or misting fans. The cooler you stay, the easier it will be to run when it is time for your next race.
- You are going to get hungry but not want to eat at the same time. Running hard can make you hungry but the temperatures may make you feel like you don’t want to eat. I used to take sandwiches for lunch but the kids would never eat them. I switched to smoothies, which they like much better. I make the smoothies the night before and freeze them in Tervis tumblers. Once we get to the meet the next day, I sit them out to thaw and by lunch time they are ready for the kids to drink.
- You may have a running and field event at the same time, but don’t panic. Regardless of how long a meet takes, my kids almost always have a running and field event at the same time at least once during the season. The typical protocol is to check in at your field event and tell them that you have to go run. Most meets will let you leave, run and then come back to complete your field event. If the meet officials are not willing to do this, talk to your coach about the best procedure.
- It is going to be FUN! Track meets are fun. You will have great races and some not so great over the course of your career but you should always be having a great time.
If this is your kid’s first track meet, it will seem like chaos at times, but don’t panic. Most meets are laid back and they want the kids to participate in all of their events and have a great time.