Limestone District Board of Education
Reorganization of Cross Country Running Championships

The sport of cross country running has exploded in recent years within the Limestone District. Huge numbers have participated in the two Board sanctioned events, the Joe Goodfellow Memorial Invitational Cross Country Meet and the Limestone District School Board Cross Country Championships. These events currently host over 1000 and 1200 athletes respectively each fall. The popularity of these events and the desire to increase participation is directly linked with the Board's current focus on student health and fitness. The growth of this sport in the Limestone District has resulted in overcapacity under the current format for these events. A need to reformat the existing organizational structure is recognized by the race directors and the athletic director of elementary sports as safety and quality assurance have become immediate issues of concern. As a result, the proposed format for the 2004 season is designed to ensure the following:

1) Safety of Participants
2) Quality of the Event
3) Increased Opportunity for Success and Recognition

The rationale and following proposed model would address the above needs.

Safety

The size of races in the atom and bantam categories are difficult to manage with some races seeing over 300 athletes participating. The safety of athletes competing, especially at the start and finish lines where congestion results in athlete to athlete physical contact is a significant concern. Large numbers in excess of 1000 athletes in one location also presents safety and security issues, especially regarding supervision of athletes who have finished competing. The ability to respond to health concerns of athletes that may arise (asthma, bee stings, nut allergies etc.) also needs to considered.

Three "regional" meets will accommodate all previous school participants but in a smaller setting. In each of the meets, two of the current track and field divisions would compete. This would lower the overall numbers of athletes in each meet therefore increasing safety.

Quality of the Event

Lower numbers of participants increases the ability for meet directors and volunteers to provide a cross country experience that is free from logistical failures. Fair positioning on the start line and placement and positioning in the finish line chute are just two areas of great concern. A positive and enjoyable experience for athletes, coaches, parents and volunteers is a priority.

Increased Opportunity for Success and Recognition

The new format will allow for a greater number of athletes to receive individual medals and schools to receive team medals as fewer schools are competing at each meet. In each regional meet, runners who achieve a placing in the top 30 in each race along with the top three teams in each age category will have an additional opportunity to compete in a district championship event. Thus, recreational and competitive athletes are better able to experience success.

Therefore, the model for the 2004 Cross Country season is three regional meets followed by a district championship meet. We look forward to an improved experience for all.

Sincerely yours,

Mark Ryan, Dan Kimmerer-Meet Directors