Cathedral opens cross country season with twilight meet

Published 7:57 pm Thursday, August 19, 2021

NATCHEZ – Runners with the Cathedral cross country team pushed their way up a quarter-mile-long hill Wednesday afternoon. Safety concerns had hampered summer training, so they are running hard to get caught up for the season. 

Head coach Tommy Smith said they had opened their season with meets in the morning in years past. August heat and humidity made race days draining and brutal. His solution was to host a meet on Cathedral’s campus.

“We are trying to avoid the extreme heat and the humidity,” Smith said. “If we can get a night meet when the temperature and humidity is lower, it helps them get a decent run in.”

Cathedral’s twilight meet has an estimated start time of 7:45. Usually, he will try to delay the meet so kids can run under the lights.

The course meanders around campus with a mixture of hills and flat spaces. Runners will complete two laps and finish on the football field.

He said it is similar to a cross country meet held in Memphis called the Memphis Twilight Run. East Rankin, Columbia, Natchez High, Oak Forest, Park Place, Riverfield, St. Aloysius, and Simpson Academy will race for two miles in the meet for all divisions.

“Every team needs a chance to get a feel of racing back in their legs without it being a full race distance,” Smith said. “Every team that is coming has been here before, and they come back year after year because they love the atmosphere.”

He said the atmosphere has something different for everybody. Vendors donate door prizes, which fans can win, he said. Music plays through the speakers. Runners will run through the football field three times and finish under the lights.

“It is very visual,” Smith said. “It is exciting for the runners, and it breaks the typical cross country meet where parents see them start and finish. You can see them the entire time. It makes it a festive race. It is more than just a normal cross country race.”