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, that one or two often loudly yell at those to get out of the way.
Happens more than once every year.
Knowing this, on one section of the course on the final uphill trek near the finish line, some spectators try to become clever, or annoying, and hide from race officials in an attempt to get a closer view, take a photo or offer encouragement to a runner or runners. Some hide in the woods behind trees or bushes, or sneak behind sheds or small buildings.
On most 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.
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.
Preventing that from occurring is an ongoing challenge, as well as keeping some of those watching from hiding somewhere in the woods.
– Dave Facinoli