image So, have you ever been to a high school cross country meet? I hadn't until recently, and I am enlightened on yet another sport's quirks. I've never been to a golf tournament either, but I think I gather, for the first time, how the crowd moves to optimum watching spots during the course of the game. Fortunately, I am not shy to ask about such things to strangers as the experienced mothers of other runners explained where exactly to stand or walk to catch a glimpse of the young people as they plow by huffing and pouring sweat. Some runners look completely composed, while others look like it may be their last moment among the living.
On rainy or muddy days, the runner's bottom halves become spattered with polka dots and splashes of muck feet to thigh as they clomp down the natural worn paths.
The real shocker of the event comes at the end. I observed an interesting man, just past the finish line, who had a very specific job. His sole purpose was to grab fainting runners by the arm and force them to remain upright until the faltering athletes made it to the open field some distance away from the finish. Otherwise, the next strong finishers would have had to leap over a dog pile of entirely exhausted bodies. And yet another surprise awaited spectators in the open field just past the end- many of the runners threw up (oh, yes, everywhere) and collapsed in an pained heap at the next available spot in the grass. I watched one young man wheeze and gasp in an asthmatic attack limping about with his mother. It all reminded me of the some kind of strange steaming battlefield minutes after the conclusion of a relentless attack- all moaning and agony.
Makes me curious about the completion of the Boston Marathon. Is it a wall of ambulances rushing fatigued and half dead people off toward oxygen and ice baths? At least marathoners get pavement instead of turf.