As announced last Thursday, the State Cross Country Meet will not be contested at Steeplechase this year. Instead, it will be held at Sanders Ferry Park in Hendersonville. Here is a virtual preview of the course:
While "Sanders Ferry" may not trigger the same emotional response some have when they hear "Steeplechase," the course does not lack championship quality or aesthetics. As you can see in the video, while runners complete their two loops of the course they will hug shorelines and tree lines while maneuvering over gradual grades and rolling elevation changes. Even with a deluge of rain on Friday from the remnants of Hurricane Laura, the course drained really well and there was no lost footing on Saturday morning. Though it may not be a PR course, it can still be fast as start to finish there is a zero to negative net elevation change. The biggest moves will likely be made in the area where no one is cheering. I'll let you interpret that on your own.
From a viewership standpoint, it will be friendlier than Steeplechase. If you stand in the "center" of the course you can see runners pass 5 times without moving. Unless you break a sweat, you won't see runners that many times at Steeplechase.
As it stands now, the course is already close to championship
ready. With some minor changes it will be. In previous years during regular
season meets, races were contested with 200+ runners however, as Coach Wietecha
noted, "It probably should
be widened in some areas but that can easily be done." The parks department
will just need to make an extra pass with the lawn mower when cutting the
course out. There is also some asphalt runners will have to crossover as well,
4 per loop. I assume it will be up to the TSSAA to determine if rubber mats will
be necessary for these areas.
While logistical challenges will remain unforeseen until the day of the meet (i.e. Traffic and Parking) it's comforting to know there is a plan in place and a course that is ready. Let all do our best to make sure we're doing everything we can to ensure the season continues until November.