Would you run across a football field in the middle of a game or walk across a soccer/field hockey field while players attempted a goal?

Clearly, the answer is no. So why do spectators, non-competing athletes and school representatives feel comfortable walking or running across a track or cross-country course during a race?

I attended the Class B State meet at Twin Brooks over the weekend and was horrified to watch as runners had to routinely avoid people crossing their path during races. More than once I yelled “Track!” so people would get out of the way of runners. I watched as racers lost their pace when they came across a human being standing before them; some ran off the course into dangerous muddy, root-filled ground to get around people.

One unfortunate runner collided with a spectator he did not see because he was coming around a blind turn. The spectator wasn’t flustered — the runner lost valuable time and I’m sure had a hard time focusing afterward.

When I asked people to step back or get off the course, most understood and moved — others just stared at me. I was shocked, angered and worried — because I had a runner on that course and I didn’t want to see him injured.

Cross country is a sport — athletes train hard to achieve success. It can also be dangerous due to weather and course conditions. Please consider this the next time you attend a race and just can’t wait to get to the other side of that trail. These athletes deserve the same respect of their sport that all athletes do — regardless of where they compete.

Kathleen Cassidy


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