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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Running of the Cows: Experience, Review, Lifestyle

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This Saturday, October 3rd, the cross-country meat, the Running of the Cows, assembled at our own Cowling Arboretum. The meet could not have happened on a more beautiful day or in a more confusing manner. I went out to cover the event of the men’s 8k.

As a newcomer to the world of sports I was confused from the moment I arrived at the start of the course (track?). I arrived to a seemingly aimlessly milling crowd of what I thought were runners, fans and coaches or not. There was no way to know. No clear delineation of where the meet was to happen versus where the fans were meant to be existed, were we running too? We ended up being very far away from the starting line when the race began because we were trying to figure out which crowd to fol-ow, and it only got more confusing from there.

The beginning of the race was very impressive and very fast. It is truly awesome to watch skilled people be better than me. Also, at the beginning everyone runs very close together so if you just watch their legs it looks like a huge creepy centipede. And then they are gone after about 30 seconds and you can’t see anything at all. This is where the adventure really picks up.

Watching a cross country game on an outside course reminds me a lot of a corn maze or a scavenger hunt. It differs drastically from that one time I watched a football game because the whole game is constantly moving away from the audience at high speed and they are just left trying to keep up. Some people know exactly where to go somehow, but I felt like it was a continuous guessing game. I mostly did not know what was going on and saw in total about 1/10th of the race. In general there just seemed to be a disregard to the idea that people might be watching. Almost as if we were just creeping through the grasses to get a glimpse at the rare cross country runner, the gazelle of the human race, that was unaware of our presence, like a gazelle.

The whole meet felt very meta for several reasons. First off the whole audience spends the entire time speed walking while watching a run which feels like if people played touch football on the sidelines as normal crowd behavior or normal golf games were conducted while the audience played mini golf along with them.

The race ended with Carleton’s own Hart Hornor crossing the finish line as the other runners came into view. Then everybody sort of congratulates people and leaves. Overall I enjoyed the event a lot. It’s a fun mix of watching an actual sport and geocaching. I would recommend this for the avid sports fan that wants something with more audience participation.

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