It’s a common occurrence that event officials during the annual multi-race Monroe Park Invitational high-school cross country meet at Burke Lake Park become annoyed with spectators potentially getting in the way of runners and impeding their progress.
When that happens, one or two sometimes loudly yell at those to get out of the way. That happens more than once every year, as the meet includes multiple girls and boys varsity and junior varsity races.
Knowing this, on one section of the course on the final uphill trek near the finish line, some spectators try to become clever and hide from race officials in an attempt to get a closer view of the runners to take a photo or offer encouragement to the race participants or one particular runner.
So some will attempt to hide in the woods behind trees or bushes, or sneak behind sheds or small buildings in that same area. Anything to stay out of the view of race officials.
On many high-school cross country courses there are no, or few, ropes, yellow tape or other barriers to restrict and contain the movement of spectators. So it’s an unwritten rule that those on site watching have to know to stay out of the way of the runners, and most do that just fine.
Race officials, though, still keep an eye out for those who might get in the way, and, if so, they aren’t shy about yelling and telling them to move. That’s a part of their responsibility regarding the safety of the runners. Coalitions between runners and spectators during high-school cross country races are not uncommon.
If that happens, the outcome of a race, and certainly a runners’ performances, can be effected.
Preventing that from occurring is an ongoing challenge, worry and headache for the race officials, as well as keeping those clever ones from sneaking off and watching from off limits hideouts somewhere in the woods.