MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon boys and girls cross country teams are gearing up for their big meet this Saturday — the 6th annual Mount Vernon Kiwanis Cross Country Invitational.
Ten high school and six middle school teams will participate in the event, which will be held at Foundation Park. The high school boys race will kick off the event at 9:30 a.m., followed by the girls high school race at 10. After a short break, the middle school boys will race at 11:15 a.m., followed by the girls at 11:45.
Along with host Mount Vernon, other high school teams sending runners are Dublin Scioto, East Knox, Fredericktown, Gahanna, Highland, Mansfield Senior, Olentangy, Upper Arlington and Worthington Kilbourne. Delaware, East Knox, Highland, Fredericktown and Westerville Blendon will join the hosts in the middle school race. The high schoolers will run a 5K race around the three lakes, while the middle schoolers will compete in a 3.2K race.
“The kids are psyched about it,” said Mount Vernon High School boys coach John Fair. “It’s one loop, which is unique, and there are unlimited entries. So, everybody is on the start line at the same time. I love it. It gives everybody the chance to compete with everyone else.”
The event is a fundraiser for the MV cross country teams and is underwritten by the Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club. The club also provides many of the volunteers for the race. Fair said the volunteers are key to the race being successful. There have been people already helping out, getting the course in race shape, and will be doing many different things during the day, including parking. The city’s parks department has also been hard at work getting the trails around the lake ready for the runners.
“Geoff Oliver and his guys have done a lot of work out there,” Fair said. “We’ve also had a lot of help from our corporate sponsors — from donations to water or bananas.
“This race has done a lot for our cross country teams. We’re pretty self-sufficient and I was able to buy a $1,600 tent for our runners.”
The race will include automatic timing for the first time, making it quicker for everyone to find out times and places. Another new item is parking. Dan Geiger has allowed the organizers to use the area near PACS for parking. That will give them 700 more parking spots and, hopefully, eliminate some of the issues with vehicles and runners in the park.