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The wave of people racing to cheer on their kids at a cross-country meet is possibly the most eye-catching and chaotic spectacle for any first-time spectator. At least, it was for me.
I arrived at my first meet at the Bear Cave Park in Stewartville early enough to meet NRHEG cross-country head coach Miles Otstot and ask some questions about the meet format.
It was a warm summer day, around 80 degrees.
When I asked him where the best place to stand for photos would be, Otstot told me I could follow him around to keep ahead of the athletes.
I should have immediately realized what this meant, but I didn’t.
Outfitted poorly in green, dri-fit sweatpants and a black T-shirt, I walked out to the gigantic field where the race was to take place.
Standing at the starting line, I prepared to take a photo right as the starting gun fired. Then, hearing a small explosion from the gun, I snapped a couple of pictures and quickly glanced at my camera to see if I liked what I’d shot.
When I looked up, I saw Otstot racing away to a checkpoint in what can only be described as a massive and chaotic wave of humans.
Trying to keep up, I jogged through the field from checkpoint to checkpoint with Otstot.
Near the end of the race, I sprinted to the finish line to get the last shot of the runners finishing the race.
As I approached the finish line – sweat dripping from my face and lungs gasping for air – I couldn’t help but feel as if I’d finished my own 3.2-mile race.
After checking the photos, I felt a sense of accomplishment.
I’d gotten my shots. I’d experienced something new. And, I got my workout in for the day.

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