High school cross-country events

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(Host) In recent years, Thetford Academy has hosted many exceptional cross-country running events, and according to commentator John Morton, they all reflected the vision of one man.

(Morton) For more than a decade, high school runners throughout New England have benefited from the boundless energy and community spirit of Dan Grossman.

In 1990, Dan learned that the New England High School Cross-Country Running Championship was scheduled for Vermont in 1992. Within a few weeks, Dan had won the bid to conduct the 92 meet at Thetford Academy, had generated community support for the creation of a new trail, and had started recruiting community members willing to volunteer on race day.

The new five-kilometer course was completed in 91 and an invitational meet conducted to test the course before the 92 New Englands. This also gave Dan’s volunteers a dress rehearsal before the big event.

That first Woods Trail Run drew 275 athletes. The following year, a few weeks prior to the New Englands, the second Woods Trail Run swelled to 700 competitors. In spite of some anxiety among the volunteers working the finish line, who often faced more than 100 exhausted runners each minute, that 92 New England Championship was a resounding success.

Since then, the annual Woods Trail Run has grown to accommodate more than 2,000 high school runners, who travel from as far away as New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Participants frequently comment on the enthusiasm of the spectators, the scenic beauty of the site and the challenging course. Coaches rave about the race organization and Dan’s amazing attention to detail.

In addition to the Woods Trail Run, Thetford has become the traditional site for the Vermont State Meet, as well as the New England’s.

Dan willingly invested about 1,000 hours of his own time every autumn, sparing no effort to make these running events at Thetford Academy the best they could be. Amenities included inspiring music during the races, hot soup and sandwiches for his volunteers, and results posted on the internet, even before the participants had arrived home.

Following the Vermont State Meet last November, Dan announced he would be stepping down as the Director of running events at Thetford Academy. Considering the time, energy and personal finances he has invested for more than a decade, he has ample justification for taking a break.

No doubt, the big cross country races at Thetford Academy will continue, but they won’t be the same without Dan Grossman. On a positive note however, he certainly gave us all a standard for how these events should be conducted.

From all of us who enjoyed those exciting races, thanks, Dan.

This is John Morton.

John Morton designs trails and writes about sports. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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