Athletes dart across a field at Camp Howard during a spring CYO cross-country meet. (Courtesy CYO/Camp Howard)
Athletes dart across a field at Camp Howard during a spring CYO cross-country meet. (Courtesy CYO/Camp Howard)

CYO cross-country is back on the trails. After our successful spring season — with more than 400 participants — we have decided to run during the beautiful Oregon autumn weather. For the first fall ever, CYO brought the sport to the region for third through eighth graders.

I ran cross-country in high school and college, and I feel the sport truly embodies the spirit of CYO. In our pre-game prayer we ask that athletes “may compete to the best of [their] abilities and with a true spirit of sportsmanship so that [their] efforts give greater glory to you, our Creator.”

In cross-country, every runner is competing to beat their personal best time, and you are almost competing against the course itself. This creates an environment where kids from all teams are cheering on all competitors on the course, encouraging them to do their best.

At each meet we offered three distances: a 600-meter race, a 1,500-meter race and a 3,000-meter race. Our third and fourth graders will run the first two distances and get used to running longer.

We are excited to have teamed up with Athletic Timing again, like we have during track. They have timed high school nationals and know what they’re doing. That means all results can be viewed in real time online.

For our fall cross-country season we competed at Valley Catholic High School in Beaverton, La Salle Prep in Milwaukie and at Camp Howard. Our meets were slated for Saturdays through Oct. 2.

Cross-country is one of the few sports in which you get to run through nature. In addition to the weather affecting the race, runners also will be affected by grass, hills and possibly mud. No two courses are identical, and we are thrilled to be able to have both athletes and parents come up to Camp Howard in our off-season from summer camp.

CYO had more than 230 athletes competing in fall cross-country, and we prayed that we be blessed with great weather as we were in the spring.

— Connor Garcia, technical support specialist for CYO/Camp Howard