Rating The Regional Courses

There will be lots of harriers romping through the open field behind Lyons High School on Thursday.

If you're going to understand the regional results from Thursday and Friday, you need to know a little about the courses. I've tried to do provide some basis for that here. Each course is rated from 1 (slow) to 5 (fast). Then a little explanation is offered.

As a rule, temperatures will be a little warm around the state this Thursday and Friday with barometric pressures average to low-average on Thursday and below average on Friday. Friday's regionals could get windy. None of that will help produce sizzling times.

And, now, here are your courses:

Lyons High School (Thursday, 2A Region 1, 3A Region 3, 4A Region 3, 4A Region 4) - 3.5 - Lyons is neither especially fast nor especially slow. It can get a little dusty when dry, but this shouldn't be an especially dusty year. It's a fair course without hard surface, always going slightly up or down.

Monument Valley Park (Thursday, 2A Region 2, 4A Region 2, 5A Region 5) - 4.5 - It's fast, but not quite exceptionally fast. Apart from one short, stiff hill it's all very close to flat with a slight incline going north and a slight decline going south. No hard surface, though the park trail is exceptionally packed--you would not want to have to drive a t-post into this trail.

Northwest Open Spaces Park (Thursday, 5A Region 1, 5A Region 2) - 5 - As long as you don't have 40 mph winds, this one is fast. It's about two-thirds soft surface and one-third concrete. There's some slight incline and decline as you go (mostly) east and west, but it's safely regarded as mostly level.

Hillcrest Golf Course (Thursday, 4A Region 5) - 4 - I've never been to Hillcrest Golf Course in Durango, so consider this 4 a "soft" rating. It certainly ran fast under the lights at the Southwest Sunset Classic, but everything tends to run faster under the lights. I do not know what the distribution of hard and soft surface is here. If anyone who's been there cares to bring me up to speed, I'll amend this description. David McMillan tells the the course is almost entirely soft surface and rolls a little. Serpentine kind of route with a lot of back and forth. The course rolls gently. Also, this year's SSC course was about 40-50 meters short due to some flooding issues from earlier in the year.

Elmwood Golf Course (Thursday, 2A Region 3) - 4 - The start on the grass doesn't so much get you as the slightly uphill finish on the grass does. Overall, it's fast, but not a screamer. Lower elevation helps here. There's a about a third of a mile of asphalt in the second half of the race. The rest of the course is golf cart path (some hard-packed, some asphalt) and grass.

Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area (Thursday, 4A Region 1) - 2 - This course is kind of a grinder as regional courses go. There's some up and down of consequence to deal with, all exacerbated by the elevation in the Lake Dillon area. It is, I believe, entirely soft surface.

Viele Lake Park (Thursday, 5A Region 3) - 3 - If Lyons rates a 3.5, this has to rate a 3. Lyons should be a slightly faster course than Viele Lake Park. There are definitely climbs to be had here, as well as grass to deal with, but it's not all climbing. It's been a while since I've been to Viele Lake Park (and never for a cross country meet), but it's hard for me to believe they can entirely route a course around the sections of sidewalk (concrete) in the park. So, I'm going to call it predominantly soft surface with a little hard mixed in, and let you guys correct me if I'm mistaken about that.

Adams County Fairgrounds (Thursday, 5A Region 4) - 4.5 - This one tends to run fast when the heat is not a killer. It can get pretty toasty out here. My understanding (having never been to a meet here) is that there are short sections of hard surface, but it's definitely more soft surface than hard. Mostly level.

Shining Mountain Golf Course (Thursday, 3A Region 2) - 2 - It's soft surface (mostly golf cart trail, some grass, one 200-meter wooden walkway over a marshy area that is crossed twice), but it rolls and it's at 8000 feet of elevation. Probably not quite the grinder experience that 4A Region 1 will tackle, but close to it.

Confluence Park (Friday, 2A Region 4, 3A Region 1) - 5 - This is the famed Delta Speedway. Partly due to low elevation, but more due the flat, hard-packed trail and the expectations people come here with, this one is a legitimate screamer.

Stenger Soccer Complex (Friday, 3A Region 5) - 4.5 - The Stenger Complex is another course that is almost, but not quite, a screamer. It is very flat, as you would expect a soccer complex to be. It's something like a third concrete and two-thirds (short) grass or skinned patches of dirt.