Welcome to the fall cross-country program. Cari Narotsky, Gillian Weissman (our teen coach), and I are really excited that the season is here. This spring, the track and cross country program got our own website, and all the information about the program is there (including copies of all the emails I send out): longmeadowtrack.org.
Practice starts on Tuesday, September 4. We will be practicing Tuesdays and Thursdays 5-6 at the Wolf Swamp fields. We will plan to meet in the corner of the fields near the far parking lot (i.e., closest to the East Longmeadow line). Our races will be Saturdays at the WS fields from 9-10 am unless we have an away meet. Our Saturday races will be a continuation of the Longmeadow Cross-Country Mile race series, so that means parents, siblings, and the general public can race with the kids in the program.
At practices, we will be breaking the kids up into two groups: elementary and middle school kids. I will be leading the middle schoolers, and Cari Narotsky will be leading the elementary school kids. The elementary school kids will stay inside the fence at the Wolf Swamp fields. The elementary school kids will thus be in sight at all times, but it is not feasible to have an adult in the immediate vicinity of each child at all times when you have a group of people running long distance. Your athletes need to find their own pace and that means some will be ahead and some will be farther back while running their loops.
The middle school kids will leave the fields from time to time as we build up our distance, running on quiet side streets in the neighborhood.
The first few weeks will be spent on the “base” phase of training, which just means building up their capacity to run distance and increasing their endurance. We will then mix in workouts at a faster pace to build up their speed.
Calendar & Races
I am attaching the calendar for the season. Some of the races will be for both elementary and middle school runners, and some will be just for middle schoolers or just for elementary school kids. You will see there are two races for each group that are a significant distance away. The first, which is for both groups, is the Wayland XC festival on Sunday, October 7. The elementary school kids also have the Massachusetts Elementary School Invitational on Monday, November 12 (Veterans Day school holiday) in Lynn, MA. The middle school runners will compete in the Massachusetts Middle School XC Championship on Saturday, November 3 in Devens, MA. These were all great races last year.
It will obviously be your choice whether to travel to these races (although we will be carpooling), but the Elementary School Invitational and the Middle School State Championship will be our goal races. Our training will aim to have the children run their best at these two competitions. These are great races and a unique opportunity for the athletes to run against kids their own age from other schools.
The elementary school kids will generally be racing at the 2K (1.2 miles) distance and the middle school runners will be racing at 3K (1.8 miles) distance. These are age-appropriate distances and in keeping with the race distances set by USA Track & Field (USATF).
For those who wish to keep their season going in November, there is the USATF association race for runners from MA, VT, NH, and RI on November 11. Runners who qualify at the association race can run the USATF regional race, which includes all six New England states and New York, on November 18. Qualifiers at that race can advance to the national meet in December. My daughter Ada has been running USATF cross-country races for the last few years, and I can provide more information as those races approach.
We have Longmeadow Track and Cross Country singlets for $10. These are the same uniforms we used in spring track, and if your child still has his/her singlet, you can just use that if you like. We also have adult sizes (I have one which I wore with pride during my spring marathon).
The goal is for each child to improve and to gain overall physical fitness. Cross-country is an honorable sport and we will emphasize good sportsmanship.
There is not a volunteer commitment, as there is with the spring track program. On the other hand, many parents stick around during practice and get their own running in (great!) and if you could lend a hand, just see Cari or me.
Everyone should bring a water bottle, wear comfortable clothing and sneakers with shoelaces that tie (recommended) to every practice and race. The Board of Health also recommends mosquito and tick repellent.