Colorado Cross Country Slides Into October

Castle View once again hosts their trendy little (or, now, not-so-little) meet just outside of Sedalia on Saturday. Photo by Alan Versaw.

September is almost gone. Apparently, so also is the unrelenting heat of September.

We've already previewed the Greeley XC Championships on Wednesday, but there is plenty more cross country to be enjoyed through the remainder of the week as well.

Dakota Ridge hosts their annual affair at the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, also on Wednesday. Over the last few years, this has grown to one of the larger weekday meets of the season. Here's hoping they're able to hang onto the venue, but I've heard rumblings that's in jeopardy.

Thursday's lone meet runs over the Royal Gorge bridge, the grandest stream crossing of them all here in Colorado. You don't get your feet wet (unless it's raining--and it could be on Thursday), but if you have a fear of heights this one takes some mental fortitude. It is a very large list of teams pointing their buses to the hills west of Canon City, so this one could be interesting.

Action picks up a bit more on Friday, with Centennial (San Luis), Abraham Lincoln, Delta, Mead, Salida, and Thornton all hosting.

I know nothing of the Centennial course, but of the other courses, I believe Salida takes the prize for the most authentically cross country course of them all. And, Salida is bringing in a crowd of teams commensurate with their cross country authenticity. Thornton, though, likely hosts the biggest meet of this set. With a good bit of sidewalk underfoot, Thornton tends to run pretty fast.

On Saturday, Castle View hosts a meet that rivals Salida for cross country authenticity. And, it may well be the most competitive meet of the weekend. Two laps around the Polson acreage will tell us a lot. If you're going, leave a little extra time as you've have to park your car off-site and shuttle to the actual meet property. Mark Kuhn has stolen a page out of the Colorado Buffaloes playbook with that one. Maybe he got the idea because Polson (almost) rhymes with Folsom.

Also hosting on Saturday are Fossil Ridge, Mancos, Rampart, Greeley Central, and Moffat County.

Due to considerations of geographic isolation, Moffat County's meet is typically small, but this is a much-better-than-average year for cross country in northwestern Colorado (and there aren't any competing meets anywhere close to Craig), so this one is likely to be the best it's been in a long time.

Mancos runs the trails of the Chicken Creek Ski Area a little outside of town. Truth be told, 2A-hosted meets don't get much bigger than this one, unless you're talking about Lyons. PRs typically aren't a big consideration on this course. That could change, though, if a rutting bull elk comes charging out of the woods.

Rampart runs a foxes-and-hounds format that spots bunches of people leads a varying amounts of time, then dares the top runners from each team to go chase them down. Unfortunately, Cottonwood Creek Park's suitability for hosting cross country meets took a serious dive earlier this year due to a whole lot of new sidewalk in the park. I can think of a thousand places in Colorado Springs that needed a sidewalk worse than Cottonwood Creek Park, but so it goes with city trail planning. And, it's still a fun concept.

Fossil Ridge will be hosting a largish one on their old state meet course. The field looks pretty solid for this one, so we're eager to see what happens there. To make things a little more confusing, both Sabercat Invitationals (Fossil Ridge and Castle View) run on Saturday. And both should be pretty competitive meets.

And, yes, Greeley Central will host the Andy Myers on Saturday. If you've been counting, you already know that is three meets hosted in Greeley in the last eight days. Fortunately, there are enough schools around Greeley, and enough variety in the kind of schools that these meets are trying to serve, that it doesn't feel quite that concentrated and condensed.

For those with a hankering for traveling out of state, this week's destination of choice is Casa Grande, Arizona. That would be the Desert Twilight, where the feature races are under the lights and screaming fast. Katie Rainsberger goes down to defend a title there. Judging by how she ran last week, prospects look pretty good. She'll be joined by her Air Academy teammates, Durango, and very possibly another Colorado team or two I haven't yet gotten wind of.

Colorado Track XC is pointing coverage this weekend at Thornton and Castle view. I'll beg and borrow pictures from Desert Twilight if I can.