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SATURDAY SENTINEL: A new twist on a great series

Published: Friday, July 26, 2013 2:03 p.m. CDT

CHANNAHON —There were no muddy swamps or electrified fences on Thursday afternoon at the third and final Indian Pride Meet of the year in neighboring Channahon.

Though the event has been stamped as a “track and field meet” for Minooka, Channahon and the surrounding communities, the latest Indian Pride incarnation was held as a cross-country event, and instead of being held at the Minooka Community High School track and football field, it was moved this time to the Channahon Park district.

While bales of hay were brought in to liven up the home cross country course of the Minooka Indians for the community event a little bit, event coordinator Kevin Gummerson said that climbing walls and cargo nets was never a consideration.

“We’re not too much into the gimmicks there. We’ll leave that to the Warrior Dash,” he said, chuckling. “It is a true cross-country course though.”

Since 2008, the Indian Pride Track and Field events have been run three times a year over the course of the summer. In total there have been 17 meets run, as there was one rainout. One of the other meets was also shortened by rain but I believe it actually got finished in the MCHS gymnasium with the toddler 20-meter run.

Tuesday was the first time that the Indian Pride Meet was oriented almost exclusively for distance runners.

“We’ve been talking about making little changes to things that would keep people interested,” Gummerson said. “To keep them coming out and to keep it fresh. We thought it would be a good way to get out on our cross country course. It’s a great park, the park district does a great job with it. Mainly we just wanted to try something different.”

There are a couple of things you should know about this unique event that perhaps been under reported. It is open to anyone from anywhere of any age. That means you can show up the day of the event and compete in as many events as you want for $5. Registration has traditionally been at 5:30 p.m. the day of the event and at the same time there is a free clinic to teach the basics of shot put, the hurdles or the long jump, depending on the meet. All these details can be found at runminooka.com

The events vary slightly but the main staples, and the fan favorites, stay the same. In addition to the toddler-20 for kids between the ages of 0 and 3, there is usually a family 4x100 relay in which the members of that relay team have to be related. While they dropped it for the cross country event, they did replace it with a 3x1-mile distance relay.

It was a neat experience and a great way to unofficially kick off cross country season. Actually, that’s a bit of a stretch for two reasons. Minooka doesn’t start with its official practices to the school year until Aug. 14, and just because it’s summer doesn’t mean the runners are resting. According to runminooka.com, the first day of summer running was June 10 with running locations changing from the MCHS central campus to the Channahon Park District to McKinley Woods in Channahon.

Gummerson’s message to the team at the onset of the summer was simply, “The journey to Detweiller Park has begun.”

Detweiller Park, of course, is the place where the IHSA state race is held. It is a place where both the Minooka boys and girls cross country teams have been to over each of the last five seasons. It is a place where the season “officially” ends.

In the meantime, guys like Minooka senior Kyle Swanson will tell you what their “offseason” is really like.

“Monday through Friday we have team summer running from 8-9:15 a.m. That’s when we all get to run together,” Swanson said. “Then sometimes the guys will meet on their own and we might play soccer or we’ll get a run in on our own. We like to do a lot of things for two-a-days just to get in more miles. Coach really stresses that we get a lot of miles because he knows the more miles you run the more energy you are going to have for the races.”

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