GALION — The largest one-day sporting event in Galion starts at 9 a.m. next Saturday, Sept. 15, at Amann Reservoir.
For more than 40 years, Galion City Schools and its cross country program have been the driving force behind one of the premiere cross country meets in the country. The annual Galion Cross Country Festival is always a tremendous event. Running begins at 9 a.m., and the racing will continue through the afternoon. Admission is $5 for individuals 13 and up, while children 12 and under receive free admission.
This year’s field includes nearly 100 teams, a far cry from the five teams who competed in the very first meet in 1977. With more than 4,000 competitors in four categories — high School boys and girls and middle school boys and girls — the Galion Cross Country Festival is the third largest event of its kind in Ohio.
“The Galion Cross Country Festival has a great history,” said meet director Ken Jarvis, a long-time coach and teachers in Galion. “The course is probably the best spectator course in the state. George Guins, Galion’s longtime cross-country coach, designed the layout of the course, and it has not changed at all over the last 30-plus years.”
The fact that the course has not changed in all those years is meaningful in that it allows a fair comparison of runners’ times over several decades. Numerous individual and team state champions in each of the three boys and girls divisions have run in the Festival over the years.
Notable athletes who have run in the Galion Cross Country Festival include 2018 Colonel Crawford High School graduate, who is a freshman running this year at Iowa State He is a multi state champion in track and cross country.
Other notable runners include Scott Fry, a state and national champion in both track and cross country; Clair Durkin, a state champion who ran collegiately at Stanford; Bob Kennedy, a state and national high school champion, a national collegiate champion, and a US national record holder in the 3000-meter, two mile and 5,000-meter runs, and tw0-time Olympian; Andrew Jordan, an All-American runner at Iowa State University and was a All-American in cross country and track at Watkins Memorial in his high school career.
“We estimate that approximately 15,000 people come and go during the day,” Jarvis said. “If you ask residents who live in the area of Amann’s Reservoir, I’m sure they will agree with that estimate. We greatly appreciate their patience and support.”