Friday, September 10, 2021

I still say cross country is a delightfully crazy activity

It's Friday and it's September, which means Terry and I will be at a high school football game tonight. It's just what we do (and have done for years) on late-summer/early-fall Fridays, given our involvement with the Wickliffe Swing Band.

We also have a routine on Saturday mornings this time of year, and it involves driving to random schools and watching large groups of thin young people run 3.1 miles so quickly you're sure some of them are going to collapse.

Welcome to the insane world of cross country!

Four years ago when my son Jack first got into this sport, I immediately recognized that cross country runners are some of the toughest people on Earth. I still say this is true as Jack, a high school junior, participates in his fifth season as a "cross" runner.

Because that's what the cool kids call it: "cross." Not "cross country," just "cross."

These athletes run in all conditions: dry or wet, hot or cold, light or dark. They have been training all summer and continue to train throughout the season, so there's very little that deters them. They are machines.

And they take pride in their toughness, by the way, just as they should. You hear all the time how tough football players are, but few of them could endure a season of cross country training (and I say that as a former footballer).

The cross country family  which includes not only the runners themselves but also their parents and siblings  is a close-knit one. We cheer for our own kids and for each others' kids. We stand outside in those changing fall weather conditions and yell for everyone wearing our school colors.

Actually, we show support for any kid willing to subject himself or herself to the trials of long-distance running, regardless of which uniform they're wearing. They all deserve our encouragement.

For years we were a soccer household, as all of our kids played it and I coached it, but I'm so proud to have joined the cross community. Everyone there, kids and families alike, is lovably insane.

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