Young runners around Tallahassee

By Scott Keatley

It is that special time of year: the weather heats up, driving gets more congested, and kids go back to school. With the school year comes a new Cross Country season for the students of Tallahassee. Most people around the community do not understand what it means to run cross-country, so I will try to fill in some of the mysteries of the sport for the layperson.

Fall cross-country begins around June 1st for most runners. These runners can be seen at such hot local hangouts as Forrest Meadows, Miccosukee Canopy Greenway, and Old Centerville Road. These runners give up many hours of their summer to run twice a day in the cool Tallahassee landscape. You may have seen many of them and not even known whom they were or why they were running at 7:30 am in the pouring rain. However, all these athletes know that to be good in the fall they must run in the summer.

Around August 13th or so, these dedicated runners go back to school and regimented practice with their coaches and teams. The weather gets…well hotter and practice goes from easy miles in the woods to hard miles on the track at around 3:00 pm. Most practices run from about 3:00 pm until 5:00 pm, this give some runners just enough time to get to work from practice. Through all of this most runners (9/10th of the runners I know) keep 3.5’s or higher and take demanding classes. However, all these athletes know that to be good for the championship part of the season they must do this every day with out fail; running on weekends just to keep mileage up.

High school runners achieve all of this and seem to get very little recognition from their community as a whole. I have only been in this town for a year now, but I have noticed, just as in my old town, football and soccer seem to be kings of the fall. The only runner in this town who gets recognition through places other then web sites is Ryan Deak. Moreover, this recognition is very little. It is sad to see that smart, talented athletes are put by the way side because they do not do popular sports.

There may be nothing that can change those facts, but next time you see a high school runner on your trails or hear of a cross-country meet in town, show your support and your appreciation for all these young men and women do every year.


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