BOARDMAN — The 35th annual Spartan Cross Country Invitational will be held over two days this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Today, Division III runners will compete, beginning at 4:15 p.m. today, at Boardman High School.
On Saturday, there will be races throughout the day, with Division I runners competing in the morning and Division II runners racing in the afternoon.
The size of the meet makes spreading out the event over two days a necessity. Approximately 2,400 runners from a maximum of 270 teams across Ohio are expected to compete.
“We have worked for weeks, making sure all safety protocols are in place ... spacing out runners and requiring masks for all spectators, coaches and staff," said Dave Pavlansky, Spartan Invitational meet manager. "Once again this year, we are partnering with Akron Children's Hospital, who will provide sports med physicians and athletic trainers to man our medical facilities."
The Spartan Invitational is traditionally one of the largest meets, not only in Ohio but the entire Midwest with an average of 5,600 runners competing from Ohio and adjoining states.
"The community support is always amazing," Pavlansky said.
The event has been scaled back this year with COVID-19 protocols in place. Runners are permitted up to three family members to watch, as long as they are wearing masks.
Spectators will pay $5 each with tickets paid online and scanned as they enter the course next to Boardman High School.
No middle school races will be run this year.
"Cross country is a tough sport," said Zaid Khatib, M.D., with Akron Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine. "We manage hundreds of medical issues throughout the Boardman Spartan Invitational every year, ranging from simple scrapes and sprains to true emergencies including heat illness, and cardiac and respiratory conditions.
“This year presents a new challenge with the addition of COVID-19," Dr. Khatib said. "We're grateful for all the support from the race organizers and our medical team."
We feel confident we can have another safe and successful running of this event."