Cross country racing at night is coming to Cabell Midland High School.
The St. Mary's Medical Center Cross Country Festival is scheduled Sept. 5 at Cabell Midland, which is the site for West Virginia State Championship on Oct. 31.
Extreme heat in the morning and afternoon has been an issue for this big meet the past few years, so a time change was made and runners will loop the 5K course in the evening under the lights.
Knights coach Chris Parsons has been testing different lighting systems. The plan calls for using football, baseball, soccer and tennis court lights along with 12 diesel portable lighting towers to light up the entire course. Yes, that includes that first and toughest climb of the course. That hill begins with a short, steep ascent onto the path, then turns right and climbs for the next 300 meters before leveling into the horseshoe.
Preston High was the first West Virginia program to conduct a meet at night. The Preston Night Relays was a four-person relay-style race on a 1.5-mile course. Parsons said that race got good reviews.
"We feel the uniqueness of racing in the evening and night is an opportunity that the runners will thoroughly enjoy," Parsons said. "We've had extreme heat, so racing in the evening and night will hopefully give the runners a break from these extreme conditions."
The schedule calls for races for middle school boys and girls, junior varsity boys and girls, Class AA boys and girls and Class AAA boys and girls. That translates into 32 team awards and 300 medals for individuals.
The first race will be middle school girls at 6:30 p.m. The boys will go at 6:55 p.m. and awards get passed out after that race in the end zone bleachers. High school javyee races (both classes) are at 7:20 p.m. for girls and 8 p.m. for boys. Class AA girls take off at 8:35 p.m. and boys at 9:15 p.m. followed by the awards ceremony for those four races.
The two main races will be Class AAA girls at 9:50 p.m. and boys at 10:30 p.m. with the final awards ceremony after the boys race.
The 2014 Festival was the largest high school meet in West Virginia last season with 1,399 runners from schools in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.
David Walsh is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759.
Source: The Herald Dispatch