The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 26, 2007


The Carlisle varsity boys are off to a quick start. (Photo by Betsy Fell)

Running through fields of gold

Great Brook Farm State Park was the perfect setting for the Carlisle Invitational cross-country race Monday afternoon, as 700 middle school students ran a spectacular course that wound through corn and hay fields amid sunlit fall leaves.

The 1.8-mile invitational is the highlight of the season for the Carlisle School cross-country team, which has 71 runners in grades five through eight. This year 13 schools from the Middlesex League participated, including Carlisle, Concord, Acton, Bedford, Hanscom Air Force Base, Lexington, Westford, Natick, Newton, Belmont and Mystic Valley, a charter school in Malden.

The number of runners in the multi-team race doubled this year because Acton no longer holds an invitational cross-country event, according to sixth-grade teacher Bill Gale, who has coached the team for seven years. There were three separate races to cut down on the number of runners on the course at the same time.

Many of the Carlisle School staff,including elementary and middle school teachers, administrative staff, and the school nurses helped to organize the race on an unseasonably warm late October day. They joined parents from Carlisle and other towns to cheer runners on the course.

The Carlisle girls varsity team nears the end of their first lap. (Photo by Ellen Huber)

Coach Gale praised Great Brook Farm Park Supervisor Steve Carlin and Seasonal Supervisor Melissa Martini who worked with the school to prepare for the race and to make sure things went smoothly.

League schools shared the cost of renting an electronic timer for the finish line. Though race results are usually not publicized, with electronic timing the invitational results are available online at

"Most of the kids leave a meet not knowing who won," Gale says of the low-key way the middle school team usually operates. The motto on the new cross-country sweatshirts — "It's not about winning, it's about finishing" — sums up some of the team philosophy. Running is a sport for everybody, he says, and cross-country is the only school sport open to fifth graders, giving them a chance to get to know some older students before the younger students officially enter the middle school.

There are ten meets from early September through the end of October, including four home races held at the Carlisle School. Peter Darasz, a second-grade teacher, started as the second cross-country coach this fall.

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito