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Runners enjoy unusual night race

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Lakeview senior Sydney Dobler carries her shoe across the finish line during the NE-8 championships in Poland. She carried her shoe the last mile of the race after it slipped off mid-event.

POLAND — Strings of multi-colored lights were strewn down a hill inside Poland Township Park, leading toward the finish line.

Lakeview’s Sydney Dobler held a running shoe in front of her. She made sure she waved it over the carpeted mat crossing the finish line.

The shoe held an orange chip to tell the timing of each runner during Saturday’s Northeast-8 cross country meet, which was held as a unique night race.

Dobler said she lost her shoe about two miles into the former quarry pit converted into a winding cross country course. It was untied within the first half mile.

“That’s what I was thinking about the entire race,” Dobler said.

Correspondent photo / Robert Haye A trio of Poland seniors, (left to right), Hayley Trolio, Jackie Grisdale, and Hallie Sebest run in the early stages of the night cross country race in Poland.

Dobler walked away from the finish area with one shoe secure and the other in her hand, leaving her to run the final mile of the 3.1-mile race in one shoe and sock.

Sure, she finished fourth, but being part of this event was much more important than the finish on this night race — a first for this newly-formed Poland course.

Dobler had another runner pass by as the interview progressed, telling her what a good job she did.

“Poland did a great job with this,” Dobler said. “They made sure we had enough lights, which was really cool. I wasn’t expecting this much light. I’ve never ran a meet like this in the dark. I felt like we were going really fast.

“It gave me a lot of adrenaline.”

Runners started across the street where Poland’s youth soccer teams would play during the fall weekends, littered with smaller goals and plenty of boys and girls showing off their footwork to their parents watching. About 70 to 80 runners in each of the four races, junior high and high school, started there, winding around across the street — following a four-wheeler. The lights on the all-terrain vehicle became more visible as darkness enveloped the area, but it was hard pressed to find total darkness unless you made a mad dash for the nearby woods.

Runners made their way up an incline which straddled a fenced area. A mass of boys high school runners came by as a trotting pack. Family members and teammates lined the fence in the distance, eventually looking at what was ahead — a winding course with ups and downs.

It was a run where light towers surrounded the course, leaving a view where spectators could see the runners below as if it were a daytime run.

Poland’s Logan Flament, who won the high school boys race, was thankful this race was at night. It’s a course that opened a year ago with no tree lines — just a course and sun. Saturday night, it was the moon above with plenty of artificial lighting.

“We usually do workouts and races in the daytime in the blaring heat with no shade,” he said. “A nighttime race felt super cool today.”

Runners took two laps around the course that snaked through panoramic view of the spectators near the finish line, watching behind a chain-link fence.

Each of the four races finally came through the finish line.

Poland’s Jackie Grisdale led a trio of Bulldogs to a first-place finish in the high school girls race. She ran at a night race last season at Centerville.

Her pent-up energy, looking forward to Saturday’s race, carried her through her home course.

“It was amazing driving in,” Grisdale said. “I was about ready to jump out of the car. I was so excited to run. I had to calm myself down so I didn’t waste energy. Everyone did a great job making this special.”

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