Viewing Options For State Cross Country

It's been a while since I did a fully updated take on viewing options for state cross country. Although this remains similar in many respects to the article published in 2015, and republished in 2016, I hope the new information here is worth the effort of the update.

The problem is simple. The state meet runs on a course that traverses two properites divided by a creek. There are two bridges over the creek (plus a couple of bootleg crossings that both Norris Penrose and Bear Creek Regional Park would prefer that you refrain from using). One of the two bridges is part of the course and only open at certain times during the races. The other bridge is at the far east end of the course and demands a long hike/dash to anywhere the racers can be seen again after that point on the course. 

So, having a good strategy for viewing before you come to the meet is a useful thing. Also, having a strategy that differs from the strategy everyone else is using can pay dividends as well.

To help explain possible viewing strategies, I'm putting another copy of the course map into the article here. This one highlights a few points around the course, numbered for ease of reference. Then, below this map, I'll try to explain a few viewing options you could use, making reference to the numbered points. Note that the order of the numbers of the points follow the sequencing of the course.

1-11: The simplest viewing strategy, though not a very satisfying one for most people, is to watch the start and then the finish. This involves a minimum of walking or other methods of movement. If you are significantly mobility limited, this may be the best, or the only realistic, option.

1-3-11: This builds just a little on the first option. If you can walk, but you walk slowly and/or you don't want to do much of it, you can catch the start (probably from the south side), walk (downhill) to point 4 and catch the field at about 1100 meters, then walk back to the stadium to see the finish. If the downhill from 1 to 4 is a problem, you can adjust this to a 1-2-11 route and use the very gradually descending road from point 1 to point 2 (or close to it). 

1-2-6-11 or 1-2-7-11: (you could also leave 1 out of both of these combinations). Either of these combinations let you see the race early, mid, and late. 1-2-6-11 is a lot more aggressive in terms of requiring you to be able to move quickly. If you see the runners go by at point 6, it is a long, and uphill, dash back to see the runners before they finish. And if you don't hurry, they'll be by before you get there. If you do 1-2-7-11, you don't have to go as far, but you will be seeing runners go by from across the creek at point 7. The view is certainly good enough to identify runners you know as they go by, but it is not an into-their-personal-space kind of view like you can get at other points on the course.

1-4-8-11: This is a very popular combination, but you must be able to move fairly quickly to do it, and you can't stay at point 8 for ALL the runners to go by. This allows you to see the start, catch the runners twice on the Bear Creek Regional Park side, and still get back to the stadium in time for the finish (again, only IF you don't stay too long at point 8 before crossing back). 

1-4-8-9: This is a variation on the previous idea that concedes you won't see the finish but that you're happy enough to see the runners for the last time at about 400 meters to go when they come out of the woods. It does skip the crowds of humanity plodding across the foot bridge, for whatever reduction in personal aggravation that might be worth.

1-4-8-10: If the stadium just isn't your thing (and it isn't for some people), then you can catch the runners with about 200 meters to go at point 10, making this a second variation off the 1-4-8-11 theme. 

5-6-10 or 5-6-11: This is actually a solid option for the reasonably in-shape members of the crowd. From point 5 you have a good, though distant, view of the start of the race, then again when the runners come down below (south of) the start, and then you're front-and-center for a close-up view at the mile. Once runners are by at the mile (and you'll want to be on the north side of the trail so you have freedom to move), make haste to point 6 to see runners at about the midway point. Then hustle back to the stadium (point 11) or the short hills coming out of the creek (point 10). If you don't, or can't, hustle, you won't be there in time.

5-8-9: If staying on the Bear Creek side of the course is your preference, this is probably your best viewing option. And, you'll get to see the race go by with about 400 meters to go.

Please, whatever you do, do not impede runners on the trail. Always look for runners before you wander into or across the course. Courtesy further requires you don't obstruct runners or camera and video camera angles for others by holding a smart phone camera out into the path, or leaning out into the path with your smart phone to get images. If you're intent on doing this, please find an isolated part of the course to do it and make certain you're keeping both the device and your person well out of runners' ways.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: The map above shows the course running through the indoor arena. According to the updated map at, the course will be going on the north side of the indoor arena and not through it. This is a change from previous years.