Who ever heard of a cross-country race being held on a road course? The idea sounds contradictory, even nonsensical. But the NCAA Division 1 Northeast Regional Conference final, scheduled to be run on the Audubon Golf Course in Buffalo, NY on Friday, November 15, has been moved to the roads on the SUNY Buffalo campus because of unsafe conditions on the golf course.
IT’S CROSS COUNTRY! ❄️❄️❄️ https://t.co/UnRV13OSvr
— Rob Watson (@robbiedxc) November 14, 2019
Northeast is one of nine regions holding their conference final tomorrow across the US. In the Northeast final, the women race 6K at 11:00 a.m. ET and the men race 10K at 12 noon.
The decision, predictably, drew howls of criticism and protest on social media (especially from Canadians). After all, what’s a cross-country race without a little snow? Moreover, many of the teams participating had already travelled to the area, and did not have racing flats without spikes that they could race in on the roads.
But it turned out that this particular golf course is naturally very wet, and there were already significantly wet areas before this week’s cold snap, creating sheets of ice, especially in the first 200m. (LetsRun cited one source who claimed that “if they ran the race on the XC course, you’d have 15 broken ankles in the first 200 meters.” This, in turn, led to criticism of the decision to hold the conference finals in such a northerly location in the first place. One poster on LetsRun.com commented: “No one thought holding championships in almost Canada in mid-November was a bad idea?” (To which one commenter replied, “It’s the Northeast Regional. Where should they run it–Tampa?”)
All of which has the Canadians in the room shaking their heads. U Sports cross-country has been held in Kingston, Ont. for the past two years, and there was snow on the course. Last weekend’s CCAA’s took place in northwestern Alberta–in 15 cm of snow. And OFSAA was held in Sudbury, Ont. (which to most of the province qualifies as “northern” Ontario).
But we can’t argue with the decision to put athlete safety first.