A new cross country course for the Burnet high school and middle school runners means added safety and better training opportunities for the 2022 season.
That’s the word from head coach Roy Kiser.
“The whole idea was to get the kids off the road,” he said. “Because of the way our school is situated, there’s not really a place to run other than streets. I want the kids to practice on grass. It was what we could get for our campuses. We wanted to make a track that was close to our campus where our kids could run without getting on the roads.”
He noted the hills surrounding the campus are used, but the athletes needed a course that better resembles the courses they’ll compete on during the season. And that meant training on fewer streets.
The new course includes a path behind R.J. Richey Elementary School “on that big field below the lights,” Kiser said.
Runners have already created a trail that will link to the path behind the elementary school.
“It loops around R.J. Richey and the length is two miles,” the coach said. “We’ll add another 1.5 miles around the high school. Once we put lights on it, we’ll be able to run on it in the mornings. That’s coming as well. There’s good terrain back there.”
In Class 4A, the high school boys run 3.1 miles, while the girls run 2 miles.
Without the new course near the campuses, runners training on roads had to each wear a safety vest and coaches led and followed them to ensure other drivers could plainly see them.
While the athletes didn’t complain about running on pavement, Kiser noted that their health and safety is at the forefront of the athletic department. So it made sense to create a course that gives the cross country runners their own space.
“Kids think they’re invincible and running on roads is not going to hurt them,” he said. “Pounding on pavement isn’t easy. We have good kids to work with. We hosted a meet every year (at different city parks). We worked with what we had.”
Kiser said he and Superintendent Keith McBurnett talked about creating a cross country course before voters were presented the latest bond for the school district. Therefore the money for the course is coming from existing funds.
The new course also allows for Burnet to host some meets in the future, Kiser said.
“We think we’ll get a variety for the kids,” he said. “We’ll have a place for the kids to run where it’s not tedious or boring all the time. We’re ready to run on it.”
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