Hundreds of athletes expected Aug. 29 for unofficial start of fall running season

by: JEFF GOODMAN - Taryn Rawlings (2265), shown at the Class 5A state championships in Eugene this past spring, placed third in her division at last year's Night Meet in Wilsonville. This year's edition of the annual event is slated for Aug. 29.If you took the cross country state championships, added music, subtracted the pressure and held them on a summer evening, you’d have something like Wilsonville’s annual Night Meet.

Hundreds of athletes from more than 40 schools throughout the region will participate in the unofficial start of the fall running season Aug. 29 at Wilsonville High School, which will again host the evening of races for high school students and members of the public.

And, as Wildcats coach David Barkley noted, the meet is as much about a communal atmosphere as it is about crossing the finish line.

“This model of education, camaraderie and competition is what we are trying to build at Wilsonville and in the wider running community,” he said.

That sense of community will be bolstered by the free educational seminars conducted by Oregon Health & Science University for the Night Meet’s high school runners, parents and coaches on the day of the event.

From 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., members of the OHSU sports medicine staff will discuss injury prevention, training principles, nutrition and hydration. About a dozen teams competing in the Night Meet are expected to attend the clinics, Barkley said.

“I know that my team learned a lot from their seminars that we now incorporate as part of our training and recovery regimen,” he said.

As for the Night Meet itself, Barkley said it’s a friendly start to the year for new and returning runners alike.

The 3-kilometer races will start and finish on Wilsonville’s football field, and the course also winds through the turf soccer field and baseball complex at the high school. Barkley said runners should not wear spiked shoes because they will cross a 150-meter stretch of pavement twice during the race.

Barkley added that there will be a lead biker for each race and that the spectator-friendly course will be well-marked.

“Each runner will finish by sprinting the last 100 meters down the middle of the football field as they watch their time on the scoreboard,” he said.

The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with an open race for members of the public. Registration will be held at the main gate, and the participation fee is $10 per person.

Competition for high school athletes begins at 7 p.m. and includes races for runners in each grade level as well as novice races for newcomers and separate elite-level races for top male and female varsity contestants.

In last year’s elite race for girls, then-junior Taryn Rawlings clocked in at 11 minutes to place third with Wilsonville’s best time. Then-senior Ty James came in ninth place in the boys competition with a 9:17.

The meet is expected to last until about 10:30 p.m. Admission for spectators costs $5 for adults and $2 for high school students. Athletes must wear their race numbers to avoid being charged for entry, Barkley said.

For more information, visit the Wilsonville cross country program’s page at

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