Sunday, October 16

Saturday was a day full of running. Not me running, of course, but other people running! I served as meet referee for the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival in Fayetteville. It was an event with eight races, about 315 teams, and about 3,000 runners. The runners ran in age from under 10 in the Fun Run to at least 77 in the 10k race and the teams included junior high teams to the #1 ranked college team (the Razorbacks, of course). My job was to make sure the timers were doing their job (which wasn't hard since we used a computer system where each runner had a "chip" in their shoe that tracked their time) and to handle any inquiries (several inquiries, especially from runners who had lost their computer chip during the race - but we had a backup system) and protests (only one real protest and we handled it the best we could, though not to everyone's satisfaction). It was an enjoyable day, but a little too hot (low 80's) by the time the last races came around.

One of things that I enjoy about these kinds of events - and track and field, in general - is that, though there is a competitive element to it, much of the satisfaction comes from competing against yourself. One of my friends who ran in the Open 10k race finished in 135th place, but he was excited because he ran it a minute faster than last year. Another friend had a son running for his junior high team. He was a 7th-grader and finished in 236th place in the junior high division, yet both he and his dad were excited because he ran the distance two minutes faster than ever before.

I've had the privilege of officiating meets from grade school kids to the US Olympic Trials. Competitors of all ages can compete against themselves and get excited about a personal best. And, as an official, that always excites me, too.

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