Runners … on your mark, get set, go

Betsy Allen
435th Services Squadron

***image1***The 435th Services Squadron’s fall cross country program is underway, and 22 teams are competing this season.
A record number of runners packed into the starting area, raced the 3.1 mile course and crossed the finish line in the first two meets.

In an eight-meet season, every run is important to the overall points total, and teams participate with a combination of friendship and competition.

“I think we have a lot of participants in the intramural cross country program because they know it’s fun, it’s a family affair, it gets you in shape and helps relieve stress,” said Isaac Melendez, the 435th SVS’s Intramural director.
That first event with 191 runners took place Aug. 31 at the 435th Construction and Training Squadron.
The second race a week later saw 164 participants follow a hilly path near the Kaiserslautern Rod and Gun Club. The Landstuhl Regional Medical Center team won both meets; they are also the 2004 spring cross country champions.

Other teams in the top five so far this year – trying to topple the strong LRMC team – are the 86th Contingency Response Group, U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s Operational Weather Squadron, 86th Operation Support Squadron and AirNATO (Component Command Air Headquarters Ramstein).
The cross country meets take place Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. and rotate through four locations: 435th CTS, Kaiserslautern Rod and Gun Club, Weilerbach and a path near A6 and B40.

“The cross country program here at Ramstein was rejuvenated in the fall of 2002 and has steadily grown ever since. I believe the abundance of wooded trails in the area, the friendly attitude surrounding all races, and maybe even the new fitness standards have all helped to increase the amount of runners participating,” said Danny Olsen, cross country coordinator.

“The Ramstein Cross Country program is the largest in USAFE ,” said Melendez.
The season ends Oct. 23 with the USAFE Cross Country Championship and an awards banquet.
Awards are presented to the top team and to the top runners in each age group for the male and female category.

“We offer people the opportunity to come out and complete the course at their own pace or they can make it competitive,” said Melendez. “It’s all about what the teams and individuals want to get out of the race.”
KMC members who want to participate can still join a team. They can contact their unit fitness representative or the Ramstein Southside Fitness Center.