Caution! Starting Guns Loading!

Get Hyped for the start of cross country with the highlight video from the Bob Blastow meet last year.

Caution! Starting Guns Loading!

Perhaps we all have those "back to reality" checks after summer. Picture Day can do it - that time when the kids roll back in from the beaches all tanned yet hoping they can still make a good hair day out of travel. That day of having to put clothes pins on your smallest kids shirts where the jerseys will stay up - at least for now.

We had a kid get injured once on Picture Day. Not kidding. Needless to say, we did not win state that year. Or region. Or much anything before.

Still, if the rhythm of the distance run stirs your soul, the sound of a gun gives you positive juice instead of having you jump for cover, and the pre-race jitters while at your tent all move your gut around somehow, good for you.

Because it's here. That time. And not only THAT time but where and when YOUR time after crossing that forever looming finish line brings movement into your belly, a little excitement after perhaps a lazy summer.

It's here if you're a coach because your texts are already putting off more noise than smoke detectors on poker night. Meetings must happen. Uniforms must be dusted off, sizes requested, bus needs sent to the AD with hopes of not getting a "See me!" directive.

Pace charts. Strava results. Mileage questions. Team goals and individual. The Parent's Meeting where you may field more questions than Dr. Fauci did during the Pandemic. Which kids need their food Gluten free? And can this one play softball and run cross country 

Kudos to you all who can answer all this, though these are the days when I wonder who died and left me boss. Regardless, a new dawn is before us, new regions, and races, and classifications, oh my. It's a reset - pulling your cellphone off the cradle with 100% battery life and no injuries as of yet.

At least none that you know of.

It's the days when you used to tell your runners their time would drop when the temperatures did. Taking in Georgia weather, this may or may not happen. Three years ago, to be exact, one race day had it at 97 degrees while state was at 34.

Perhaps Mother Nature has it in for cross country people, she delivers the extremes but often forgets about those 55 degree mornings with no wind, nothing but freshly cut grass before you, mile markers disappearing behind your feet without the world tilting a bit, going perhaps fuzzy, then later to the days of tossing away your hats and gloves while kicking your way through ice on yet another hill.

And finally, let's not forget the adrenaline, adventures, adversity of never knowing what's going to happen with the 14-through-18-year-old minds, bodies, and spirits. Coaching cross country - actually coaching or teaching ANYTHING - lets you know that just when you think you've heard it all, you haven't.

You just haven't.

But stay tuned, because in my mind's eye, I see a race starter walking away from the runners, almost in slow motion; earmuffs covering part of his face. He turns, faces the angled and elbowed entrants all eager in their boxes. The starter's arms are lifting oh so slowly. Then there's that second - that silent second is upon us - it's so quiet it's loud if that makes any sense.

"Runners to your mark!"

And ready or not, here it comes..

Dunn Neugebauer

Holder of lots of jobs

Author, coach, nice guy-

2019 GHSA Girls' XC State Champions

2022 GHSA Boys' track State Champions

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