Local teams are primed and ready to run this Saturday at the Greater Lansing Cross Country Championship. Stay up-to-date on results, photos, and schedule of events can be found HERE.
The race official calls, “On your marks”, he slowly raises the starter pistol above his head. I tense into my starting stance as I take one quick glance down the line to see the usual teams: Bath, East Lansing, Okemos, DeWitt, and all the other local high schools. And just like that, we are off like a herd of wild beasts vying for the perfect position. “Be smart, not too fast…now relax”, are the thoughts that run through my head as we settle into the 5k.
Autumn, or what I refer to as cross country season, gaps the time of year between 90 degree summer days and cold, wet snow. Cross country is much like any other 5k race, with the addition of grass, dirt, trails and everything in between. Plus, add a starting line that can span half the length of a football field and team scoring.
The second mile of a 5K always seems to be the hardest. You can’t smell the finish yet and every step is microscopically harder than the step before, “keep smooth, steady, DON’T SETTLE,” all seep their way into my head as I struggle to convince my body to continue pushing through the madness.
Although, to a keen observer, this race may seem as simple as running on any other given day (as quickly as possible). The racers encounter a very different experience with a whirlwind of emotions!
Entering the final mile, my mind is filled with the relief of knowing that “this will end sooner than later,” but fatigue is now omnipresent with every step. I pass an animated coach, hopping up and down, and yelling encouraging words (plus letting me know where my competitors are and more importantly how the team is doing).
With one last hill, a 90 degree right, and a long sprint HOME it is time to put pain and fatigue aside and run as hard as I can! Flying up the final straight and through the finish line, I grab my knees as I breathe the sweet air that my lungs so desire. As I regain my composure, my competitors and I give each other nods and the customary back pats as I find my teammates, listen to their stories, and wait for the team results.
These memories have stuck with me for a lifetime. The Greater Lansing Championship is one of the most prestigious XC meets in the state. In one race, 40 local varsity cross country teams toe the line to determine local dominance on the cross country course regardless of high school division.