Our first track meet

The Kid is doing track. He’s with a team that, so far, seems very invested in doing right by kids. That’s important, especially in sports.

Saturday was our first track meet.

The email they sent gave us the location, what the athletes should wear (no uniforms until later in February), that we should arrive no later than 7 (8:00 start), they don’t know how long it will go or what time events are, and some attachments, including “Track Meet Advice.”

Advice included where to sit so we could all be together, emphasis on being there early and warming up, pay attention so you don’t miss your events, bring snacks and water.

So aside from the events he was running (100m, 200m, 400m), that’s all we knew for Saturday.

I had heard from someone (I don’t remember who at this point) that the little kids’ events would be early so they could run them and go home.

Whoever told me that was so very wrong.

We arrived at 7 with a back pack full of fruit and trail mix and, as instructed, sat in the home bleachers near the finish line; there weren’t many of us and it turned out we were all newbies. We learned a bit later that the finish line was actually on the away side; we moved.

The Kid joined his team and did warm-ups. We sat in the stands and watched the sun come up. Eventually, he joined us with his bib. At 7:55, they announced that the track was closed. It was close to 8:30 before the first event began.

As a note: the announcements were (presumably) from the box on the home side. The speakers on the home side were on. The speakers on the away side were off. The announcements were all at least partially inaudible.

Before the first event started, someone sitting in front of us got a list of events in order; we grabbed a photo. There were numbers penciled in next to each. We were hoping the numbers were how many kids from our team were in those events. Turns out, those numbers were heats.

They had scheduled 206 heats.

We watched the 3000m. Twice. Then the 800m 23 times. That was the only event while we were there that people did any significant cheering for.

The Kid ran his first race, the 100m, at 11:00. We had been there a full four hours before his first race. (He went with his team to get signed in and divided into heats and all that half an hour or so before.) He finished warm-ups with his team over three hours before his first race.

To pause the sequence of events here… The 8 and under 100m dash was one of the cutest things I’ve watched in a long time. It was apparent which kids have done track before and which ones are new. Lots of mugging for the stands. The first heat of girls was lined up, and apparently they all just kind of looked at each other and took off—no gun or anything—so they herded them back to the start and did it again. Most kids stayed in their lanes most of the time…

During the 100s, we realized we weren’t going to have enough food. We didn’t pack lunch; as per the email, we packed snacks. So after his race, The Kid and The Climbing Daddy went down to the concession stand.

They had one plate of fries left (and were apparently going to the store to buy more). They had no mac and cheese left. And they had no other vegetarian options. The Climbing Daddy convinced them to sell him two plain hamburger buns. We bought a box of Girl Scout cookies from a girl roaming the stands selling.

Near noon, he was called for his second race, the 400m. At 12:25, he ran.

Nearly an hour and a half later, when they were still running 400s, we realized that it was unlikely that his last event would be called before we had to leave for a birthday party. (We RSVPed for the party prior to signing up for track, and it was for one of his best friends.) We checked with the coaches and they confirmed that no, that wasn’t going to happen any time soon and that yes, he should go and enjoy the party, and good job in your first meet.

We left at 2:00, seven hours after arriving. They were on 400m for the 13-14 age group. Two age groups to go, then the rest of the events. I’d be surprised to learn that they were done before 5:00, though I saw quite a few young ones leaving before and when we did, so I’d guess there ended up being fewer than 58 heats of the 200m.

I don’t have an issue with being at a sporting event that my kid is participating in and not seeing my kid participate the whole time. He wouldn’t be active the whole game in any team sport.

I do have issue with the expectation of sitting in bleachers for 10 hours for less than three minutes of activity.

Honestly, unless he’s running an IronMan, I don’t think there should be an expectation of spending a full day for any event.

I don’t blame the coaches, but the way this is set up is disrespectful to people’s time and attention. It’s not good for kids—the majority of people were not watching the majority of races, and aside from the 800, only really close races got any cheers.


On the bottom of the schedule, it told us that ribbons would be given for each event for first through sixth place.

Overall? Per age group? Per age group by gender?

(It turns out—per age group by gender.)

There were more than six heats for most age groups for the short events. So you could potentially win your race and not get a ribbon, unless there’s another rule that I don’t know (which is possible).

When we were leaving, they told us that the next meet would be shorter because some of the runners are actually field competitors and won’t be running. (There were no field events at this meet, but the next meet is “indoor events only.”)

I’m new to this, but I’m also a really big fan of efficiency. This was not efficient.

I mean, they seemed good about getting kids to the check-in tent before their events and getting them out to the starting line well before it was their turn to start. That was efficient. (Aside from difficulty hearing the announcements for who should report—the coaches helped with that.)

But the schedule of the day overall? Terrible!

Instead of, “Yeah, track meets take all day,” FIX IT!

They could run 100s on both sides of the track simultaneously. They could probably run 200s the same way.

They could make two start times: one for 10 and under, and one for 11 and older, which would make the day more streamlined for both age groups.

We are talking about setting up a pop-up tent to the side (there were over a dozen of them) and spending the day in there for future races, then moving up to the fence to watch events. Would be much more comfortable. Could bring other things to do—games, books, whatever. But then we lose the benefit of hearing the coaches call for events. But sitting in bleachers all day… I can’t even sit through an entire staff meeting. It’s not good for bodies to sit all day, whether in comfy chairs or not.

The Kid’s take: “I think it was a good track meet. I ran my best. I really like my coach, too. I did not like sitting in the stands and watching everyone else run.”

Yes, he needs to be able to sit and watch his teammates run, and cheer for them, and so on. But for the entire day? I don’t think so.

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