I recently came across a quote about cross country runners: “running is a mental sport, and we are all insane...there’s no halftime, no timeouts, no breaks…”
Insane or not, there’s no question it takes a different kind of athlete to compete in the sport.
Cross country runners gained my respect years ago.
That respect grew even more for the 253 boys and girls runners who competed in the Brown County Semistate last Saturday.
On a course better suited for a tough mudder, runners at the Eagle Park course slogged their way through the mud and puddles which turned into small creeks.
Throw in dropping temperatures throughout the race in addition to the constant downpour, just finishing the 3.1-mile course should be considered an accomplishment.
One young lady from Bloomfield lost a shoe near the start of the race and finished without it.
Princeton Community freshman Haley Meade got tangled up with another runner near the start of the race and took a fall.
Whether or not Meade would have joined twin sister, Heidi, in advancing to the IHSAA State Championships if not for the fall can be discussed, but the freshman got up and still finished 30th in the field of 174.
It would have been easy for her to just go through the motions for the better part of the race and make the excuse of taking an early fall in addition to the terrible course conditions.
But she didn’t.
A total of 13 Gibson County runners ran in the race, none of which made excuses.
They all survived, while only one advanced.
But they all embraced the course and most of them even had fun stomping through all the puddles and slinging mud with each stride.
With that said, what Heidi Meade was able to accomplish on Saturday is much more impressive.
Sans her sister, you would be hard pressed to find a smaller runner in any meet.
But maybe that played to her advantage on Saturday. In running against much taller runners in every race, Meade has to work harder to overcome their longer strides.
By now she’s used to it.
Regardless, it was impressive.
Gibson Southern’s Ashley Evetts placed 103rd overall.
Her finish was also impressive.
The Titans’ top boys finisher came from Zach Purcell and Aidan Neel who placed 47th and 48th, respectively.
Their finish was impressive.
Lady Tigers’ No. 6 runner Lexi Brown finished 172nd.
Yup, you guessed it...her finish was impressive as well.
Why should all of these higher places be considered impressive?
Because they all finished.
After the races and awards ceremony, I went and sat in my car cranked the heater on blast for a few minutes to thaw/dry out.
At first, I thought: “man, I don’t get paid enough to work in these kind of conditions.”
But then my thoughts quickly turned to: “man, I am just glad I did not have to compete in this mess today!”
Then I couldn’t wait to get to an area where I had cell service to announce Meade had qualified for the state finals and to also give props to all of the runners for braving such arduous conditions.
As I stated in a couple different social media posts, if you are reading this and know a runner who competed Saturday make sure you give them some props. Give them a pat on the back, shake their hand, give them a hi-five, tell them good job — no matter what place they finished.
They deserve it!
Travis David is the sports editor of the Daily Clarion. He can be reached at 812-220-4843 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Tdavid_21.