Additional reporting Sunjin Chang and Anjini VenugopalDroplets of sweat had already started to streak down the faces of the cross country runners as they gathered around Coach Kirk Flatow after warming up. However, this practice was a little bit different. For starters, it was the day of the team’s Watermelon Run, and waiting just past the finish line were 16 watermelons. And additionally, the temperature for that day, Aug. 31, reached as high as 95 degrees, making conditions less than ideal.
Nonetheless, the team held their annual Watermelon Run, an event which allows runners to do an unofficial but timed race. This time is used as a rough benchmark for runners to track their personal progress throughout the season. Following the race, the team eats watermelon, which is an annual tradition.
With the team gathered around him, Flatow explained that to avoid overexertion in the heat, he wanted his runners not to push themselves to their maximum, in order to prevent unnecessary injuries and fatigue. He said that everyone should try their best, but they should stop if they feel too exhausted.
“I know I always tell you all that ‘Every day is a great day to race.’” Flatow said. “But today is just an okay day to race.”
The team burst into laughter and proceeded to the start line of the course. And following the completion of the their first event of the season, the runners all gathered around the picnic benches to eat the 16 watermelons and chat with their teammates.
Click through the photo gallery below to see snapshots of the cross country team’s annual Watermelon Run.