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The County Chronicle

“I ran through a hurricane and survived.”

Cross Country perseveres at Oatlands Invitational

A couple of weeks ago, the cross country team at Loudoun County High School ran at one of their biggest meets of the year, Oatlands Invitational. Being an already challenging course, the runners shed their blood, sweat, and tears at this race when a sudden storm wreaked havoc upon the land.

Cross country runners race at Oatlands Plantation every year. The course is well known throughout the area, and teams from all over the East Coast participate in this meet.

On September 23, 2023, Riverside High School hosted the historic meet for the first time, and teams from over 40 schools ran.

This course is not known for being easy. As the course progresses, the difficulty increases, until eventually, runners reach “Hell Hill” around the 2.5 mile mark. This hill is known by all runners for its steep elevation. However, what makes this hill even more challenging to run across is that after climbing the hill, the course remains flat, and does not progress downhill.

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This year’s meet was definitely one to remember as runners ran through severe weather conditions. The day of the meet, the temperature was at a low of 55℉ and there was a lot of rain. 

Wet and cold runners had to run through the rain, on a muddy and slippery course, at their hardest meet of the year – and they were not happy about it.

“I felt very tired, cold, and very stressed out,” sophomore Kalie Brown said. “I wanted to stop and quit.” 

The muddy conditions were almost impossible to run in. Runners were falling left and right. 

If she had to do that race again, she would simply “not go,” Brown said.

Meanwhile, junior varsity runners, like junior Elle Shin and freshman Madelyn Homa, had similar thoughts while running.

“Why did I sign up for this?” Shin said. “I wanted to stop and quit.”

While some may think that this muddy race was the peak of cross country fun, others may view it as a serious danger zone.

“I was trying really hard not to slip because a lot of the girls around me were falling down the hills,” Homa said.

Homa herself wore three layers of clothing to the race to protect herself from the atrocious weather.

“I wore two coats and a rain jacket,” Homa said.

While the critical weather conditions had most runners questioning their decision to run cross country, they seemed to have no effect on junior Joe Tafe.

“I felt pretty good.” Tafe said. “It was kind of just like slugging around in the rain and mud. You couldn’t really send down the hills because the mud was so packed, but it was good.” 

Tafe wore arm sleeves and gloves to deal with the cold and said that his uniform getting wet and stuff “wasn’t really that big of a deal” to him.

While all runners had a hard time getting through the 3.1 miles of this course, it seemed as if junior Sadie Byers had the most challenging race.

“It was kind of horrible and I didn’t want to be there,” Byers said. “It was freezing outside and I did not want to race.”

As she described her thoughts while racing, Byers revealed the dark secrets of cross country running.

“When I saw a bunch of bodies drop, I was like, ‘I have to keep pushing on because this is my chance to get in front of them.’”

Freshman Madelyn Homa (left), and sophomores Fallon Murphy (middle) and Kalie Brown (right) trek their way up the muddy side of a hill to their base. Moments before, Homa went through a traumatic experience as the crazy winds blew her umbrella inside out. (Karan Singh)
Senior Crawford Holmes sits in the bus with his granola bar and bright, yellow poncho as he gets ready for his race in the rain. (Cat Pizzarello)

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About the Contributors
Karan Singh, business manager
Karan Singh is a sophomore at Loudoun County High School. This is his first year working for The County Chronicle. Karan likes writing investigative reports and articles that expose secrets. Outside of school, Karan likes listening to music, reading, writing, hanging out with friends, and talking.
Cat Pizzarello, editor-in-chief
Cat Pizzarello is a senior at Loudoun County High School. This is her third year on The County Chronicle newspaper staff and she will be serving as an editor-in-chief this year.  She really enjoys writing a variety of different articles throughout the year. Outside of newspapers, she is very involved in the cross country and track teams at LCHS since freshman year and mainly does distance events. She also really enjoys listening to music, hiking and hanging out with her family and friends.

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