My Cross Country Is… verse comes from my experiences with the sport since the 1970s and continues today as I photograph many of the high school meets in the Kansas City area and beyond. I hope you enjoy it.
Cross Country Is…
Cross Country is sitting in the school gym during the football team’s Friday afternoon pep rally consumed in thought about your race the next morning.
Cross Country is your alarm clock rudely reminding you on a humid July morning that your competition is not sleeping in.
Cross Country is a team sport that requires incredible individual efforts.
Cross Country is scored backward but everything else about the sport revolves around moving forward as quickly as possible.
Cross Country is the never-ending pursuit of a PR or a PB and a delicious PB&J.
Cross Country is not the most popular sport in school. It is simply the best sport in school.
Cross Country is Steve Prefontaine’s words on the back of a kid’s t-shirt 100 years from now because Pre was that special.
Cross Country is that bugger of a hill on your route that you would love to skip but don’t because you know how much you will need it come November.
Cross Country is kids who are thought to be some of the smartest students in class — until you sit next to them on a three-hour bus ride.
Cross Country is what allows you to eventually lose your public inhibitions at an age when many kids are frozen by theirs.
Cross Country is a pristine dew-covered field at dawn awaiting the onslaught of wet spikes unleashed by the echo of the starter’s gun, as the hoard of runners sprint from the start, into a wedge, and then form a serpentine parade.
Cross Country is the entire varsity team going bonkers as the slowest kid on the JV team stumbles through the finish line to record a new PR.
Cross Country is a beautiful sport where you get to experience nature close up, smell the unfiltered outdoors and feel your body adapt — oh, does it ever feel!
Cross Country is lying awake in bed the night before a big race because your mind refuses to obey your legs’ pleas for sleep.
Cross Country is working out twice a day because we know the pain while we train is far less than the pain of what we might fail to gain.
Cross Country is not a religion but many have come to know a greater power through the agony of the long distance training run.
Cross Country is a starting line of chaotic colorful singlets stretching from the giant oak tree to the scattered shards of the sunrise.
Cross Country is learning that hills can be your friend, albeit the kind of friend you would like to see move to North Dakota.
Cross Country is that crushing and disappointing race that comes out of nowhere, just when you thought everything was finally falling into place.
Cross Country often favors the skinny kids but beware to never take that not-so-skinny kid in front of you lightly.
Cross Country is a frigid winter training run through your familiar hometown streets escorted by the silence of sub-freezing temps and the chorus of Sauconys on ice.
Cross Country is that summer trip to a faraway place to train and bond with your team and coaches where the only pressure is your squad’s limited cooking skills.
Cross Country is odd in that there is no scoreboard updating the race as it unfolds. There is just hope and panic and lots of whispering as the results are slowly tallied.
Cross Country is trying to squash your exploding pride over your just-completed PR race while your best friend pouts about their latest injury.
Cross Country is about losing – a lot, and coming back the next race determined to lose by less.
Cross Country is not for all, rather it is for all who are unafraid to try.
Greg Hall [email protected] 913-579-4455