The popular venue was laid out and organized the same as always. Yet, it was interesting how the Burke Lake Park high-school cross country course and its surroundings looked a good bit different in various manners without leaves on the trees.
Usually, district and region high-school cross country championship races are run during the fall on the 2.98-mile Burke Lake Park trek, before the leaves fall from the trees. In this crazy 2020-21 prep sports year with seasons delayed and played in different months because of the pandemic, those district events were run on April 8. That was when many trees were still without leaves, or just beginning to get a few blooms.
Without those leaves, Burke Lake clearly could be seen at different spots near the finish line. The lake usually isn’t visible with leaves-filled trees. Same with the footpath that circles the lake. It was busy with non-high-school runners biking, walking and running the popular trail that day.
During races, cross country runners also could be seen running in spots where they are usually blocked from view by leaves. That was a good thing, because so much more of the race was visible.
“I’ve been coming to Burke Lake Park for many years, first as a runner and now as a coach. I never knew the lake was right there, because you can’t see it during the fall,” Oakton High School coach Matt Kroetch said as he stood near the finish line. “And I saw some other things I’d never seen here before. That’s kind of neat.”
Without the leaves, the park was more wide open for all to see.
Dozens of golf balls that had been sliced or hooked considerably off target from the adjacent driving range could be seen in a wooded spot. It was possible to watch golfers hit tee shots and hear them play some of the holes on the par-3 course. Yes, a couple of FOOOORES were heard that day.