As you may know, we are huge high school cross country fans. Our son ran, and now our daughter is running. We avidly follow the speediest runners in our state. And we have even gone to watch races in the gap years when neither child was racing. For instance last year (our son had graduated, but our daughter hadn’t entered high school), my husband and I ran a local race. We knew I had placed in my age group, but decided to skip the awards ceremony so that we could get to the nearby cross country races. Believe it or not, FRANK SHORTER was giving out the age group awards at the ceremony that we had skipped!!
We continue our fandom even after cross country season ends. Around Thanksgiving, there is a regional race open to all. The speediest high school runners from all over the Southeast attend. The Footlocker SE Regionals are held in Charlotte, NC. Each year, we follow the results of the regionals through twitter feeds, live updates, and Facebook posts.
There are 3 other regional races held in other parts of the country. The top ten finishers of each regional race then participate in the Foot Locker National race held in Balboa Park in San Diego, CA. Each year we watch the live feed of this race over the internet.
When our boy ran, we mostly followed the boys. Now that our girl runs, we mostly follow the girls. This year, there have been several speedy girls in the state of Georgia that we have enjoyed watching. We were thrilled to learn that THREE Georgia girls made the top ten at the SE regional! This is unheard of! Three girls from Georgia going to San Diego!!
The Footlocker National race was held this weekend. We were able to watch it over the internet, and were once again inspired to watch these high school athletes compete at such an intense level. The girls winner finished with a time of 17:09…on a HILLY course! The Georgia girls did well too. 15th, 19th and 39th. I get nervous and inspired and happy every time I watch the Footlocker races!
Several years ago we were able to attend and race in the SE Regionals! When our son was a senior, we took him to Charlotte.
Before the high school athletes race, there is a race open to any non-high schooler. My husband and I signed up for it. Talk about NERVOUS! But the race was awesome! For the most part, the runners were former high school or college runners. It was a very fast field, with very few females. Normally I put myself toward the front of a race. Not here! I looked around and felt slow even before the race started. I backed up and made a joke with the middle aged woman next to me about letting faster looking young men get to the front of the start line. She laughed but didn’t say much.
The race itself was tougher than I’d expected. Running cross country is harder than running on pavement. Some of the terrain felt like sand, and it was hard to get a good foothold. The fans were very supportive though. High school girls that I didn’t know yelled encouragement to me as I passed…”Go MOM!”. At the time, my finish time disappointed me. During that Fall, I had finished several races in the 22s. This one was 23:40. (In retrospect, I’m perfectly happy with this time).
Next up was our son’s race. While we were waiting for his race to start, I stopped by the awards table to see if they had any results. Amazingly, I had earned an award!! Twenty three women raced in the entire Master’s category. The top 20 finishers received awards. The top ten were gold medal winners. The next ten received silver medals. I finished 9th!! A Gold Medal!
The top lady in the category finished 6 full minutes faster than me. Yes, a woman over forty finishing with something starting with a 17!! Amazing. I later googled her name. Zola Pieterse. Maiden name BUDD. Yes, she ran for the UK in the Olympics in the 80s! She is the one who had a collision with Mary Decker on the track that caused Mary Decker to not finish. WOW!! I wonder if that was the middle aged lady that I had been joking with at the start. She must have thought I was an idiot!
Our son ran, and did fine. His finish time also started with a 17. He was just barely faster than Zola! He wasn’t pleased with his time though. (They never are). One of the boys from our high school finished second! He had been the fastest boy in Georgia for the past three years. So with his second place finish, he earned a gold medal (I like to joke that Josh and I were the only 2 from our high school with the gold medals), and a spot in the Footlocker Nationals!