GALION — For nearly40 years, the Galion City School District 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 at Amann Reservoir outside Galion Saturday and is again shaping up to be a tremendous event. Running begins at 9:00 a.m., and admission is $5 for anyone 13 and over. For others, it is free.
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 such meet in Ohio.
“The Galion Cross Country Festival has a great history,” said meet director Ken Jarvis. “The course at Amann 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 the course has not changed 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.
Notable athletes who have run in the Galion Cross Country Festival include: Scott Fry, a state and national champion in track and cross country; Clair Durkin, a state champion who ran in college at Stanford; and Bob Kennedy, a state and national high school champion, a national collegiate champion, and a U.S. national record holder in the 3,000 meter, 2-mile, & 5n000 meter runs, and 2-time Olympian.
“We estimate approximately 15,000 people come and go during the day,” said Jarvis. “If you ask residents who live in the area, I’m sure they will agree with that estimate. We greatly appreciate their patience and support.”
Jarvis has personally overseen the organization of the meet for more than 30 years. His vision and work ethic has helped make this festival one of the most competitive in Ohio.
“I greatly appreciate all the work and time Ken has invested in organizing this meet for the Galion community and our school district,” said Galion Superintendent Jim Grubbs. “This is an incredible event that showcases our community, and I’m excited to enjoy the full day of competition Saturday.”
For more information about the event, including a map of the course, spectator parking information and more, please visit www.galionschools.org.