Preparing to Watch a Cross Country Meet

When you arrive at the racecourse, request a course map from a meet official or ask a coach. First locate the start and finish, then try to find central locations to watch as much of the race as possible without having to run around. Most meets last between 2-4 hours when there are multiple races (or boys and girls races at the same meet). A big invitational can be very confusing depending on the number of teams. There can be anywhere from 20-300 runners in a cross country race. Make sure you know which division your daughter is racing in; they should be able to tell you the night before the race. During the race, you can move from point to point along the course to cheer for the runners as they pass. Be careful to stay clear of the path of the racers. Rules also strongly forbid running alongside a competitor to cheer or pace them during the race.

At the finish of the race, the runners file through the finish chute. It’s OK to greet them then, but make sure that they give their coaches their race place finish card if they have one ASAP, so that scores can be tabulated. All runners show different signs of post race fatigue. Typical signs many be any of the following: breathlessness, weakness, rubbery legs, glassy eyes, salivation, nausea, and even crying. Please encourage your daughter to walk back to camp with her teammates to start the post-race recovery and cool down. The cool down is very important, and again, this is where the team will need some time away to jog and possibly discuss the race performance.

Expect the possibility of some disappointment on the part of your daughter after the race if she did not reach a personal goal or if the team did not do well. Athletes may need some emotional space from parents and coaches. Later, they may need some positive verbal support. Trust us, most distance runners are their own worst critics. Once the meet is over, please do not take your daughter home without letting a coach know.