WATERVILLE — The weather has not been ideal for central Maine cross country teams.

On Saturday morning, teams hit the trails for the Quarry Road Opener that involved several Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference squads. The event was also a senior day celebration for the Waterville and Winslow teams.

The meet, originally scheduled for Thursday, was moved due to heat conditions, an issue several teams had to deal with during the week.

“It was just awesome to have the race and to have all these schools here,” Waterville head coach Ted Brown said. “To come into this facility that still needs work, still needs potable water, but the kids really stepped up today. Everybody has been telling me that it’s really good to be here, so we’re happy to pull it off.”

Pulling it off may be an understatement. Teams had to toss aside the normal training routines due to temperatures hitting the high 80s and even, at times, 90 degrees.

“This past week, we had to dial (training) back,” Brown said. “When we moved the meet to Saturday, I gave them (Thursday) off, we haven’t had a day off in a while. So, we’ve had to dial things back a bit. We don’t have indoor facilities for cardio work, so we’ve had to be creative. We’ve gone up to Colby to get some shade up there and found that we could get a workout in without hurting anybody. It’s been tough, but the kids have been awesome.”


Gardiner head coach Jen Boudreau has had similar practice issues during the week.

“It threw our whole training week out the window,” Boudreau said. “Monday and Tuesday, we were prepping for a race for Thursday. Then Thursday came, and then we found out we couldn’t have practice until after 6 (p.m., due to the heat). I just told the kids to run on their own, and to run as early as possible, because we got out of school at 11 (a.m.). And then (Friday) we weren’t allowed to have practice because of the heat, or rather, we weren’t allowed to have a scheduled practice because of the heat.

“But I’m going to call it a down week,” Boudreau continued. “When you’re doing marathon training, you always take a step back. I’m going to call it one of those weeks, so next week we can ramp it back up again.”

Mt. Blue High School’s Nora McCourt (57) left, congratulates second-place finisher Maddy Kallin (46) of Lincoln Academy after finishing Saturday’s cross country race at Quarry Road Trails in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans

Conditions weren’t ideal on Saturday morning, either, with temperatures in the mid-70s for the 9 a.m. start. Still, teams hit the trail, and shade in the woods helped along the 2-mile course. In the end, Nora McCourt of Mt. Blue was the top female finisher, while Lucas Hutchinson of Oxford Hills won the boys race.

“This is my first year racing here, so I didn’t know what to expect, although I have done ski races here during the winter, so I know the lay of the land,” said McCourt, a junior. “I think the conditions were pretty good. There were definitely some muddy spots, but I really like the course. I like the rolling hills. It’s pretty, I like it.”

“The course was really good, really flowy,” said Hutchinson, a junior. “There’s a lot of hills, but it really evens out with the downhill. Then you can coast and charge a bit. It was shady out there, which was great on a hot day.”


Hutchinson was especially appreciative of the shade.

“It’s very well needed, if I didn’t have it, I’d probably be on the ground (after finishing),” Hutchinson said. “I hate heat. I can deal with (any other condition) but heat, it is my least favorite of any of the weather conditions that you can have. You kind of just have to take it as it comes. There’s nothing you can do about it, so just run.”

Heat hasn’t been the only issue for cross country teams. Rain has soaked the state throughout the summer and is still playing a role early in the regular season. The annual Laliberte Invitational, viewed as the unofficial kickoff for central Maine teams and hosted each year at Cony High School in Augusta, was cancelled on Aug. 25 due to rain and wet conditions.

“Laliberte is a really fun meet, and it was sad to miss out on it,” said Mt. Blue junior Henri McCourt, one of the top finishers in the boys race. “It’s a really nice way to open up the season. Besides that, I feel like we’ve been able to adapt well (to conditions).”

“(The heat) has been pretty tough, but pretty manageable as well,” McCourt continued. “This week especially, our team has been making sure to be well hydrated. Our cross country course is nice and wooded. Most of the time, we’d run the roads, but this week we’ve been doing nearly everything on our course, and that makes the heat pretty manageable.”

Conditions will certainly change throughout the fall, forcing teams to continue to adapt along the way.

“I might say that resilience is the key,” Brown said. “The kids that are resilient are going to be fine (during the season). You knock them down (with conditions), they get right back on up again.”

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