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Track Meets 101

Here are some notes for students and parents who may be new to track meets.

Since we currently have to provide our own transportation to most meets, it is important to start thinking about the logistics of getting there well, in advance.

Check out the route using an on-line map. Keep in mind that their estimated travel times don’t usually include heavy traffic or road work.

IF the field events are scheduled to start at 11pm (running events at noon) you will want to arrive well before that to give yourself time to find the stadium, find the team, get warmed up, etc. I personally like to get there an hour before the event starts but the coach may have specific instructions on when he wants the athletes there.

Weather –

Track weather tends to be on the extremes. We start the season in miserable cold and end just a few weeks later in miserable heat and humidity!
Sitting in a stadium leaves you exposed to cold north winds or unrelenting sunshine but if you prepare for that you will do just fine.


Be prepared to bring appropriate sweat suits, warm-ups, jackets, warm gloves and hats. Also have blankets for wrapping around you in the stands and something warm to sit on … those aluminum benches in the stands will suck the heat out of you.


Wear layers. It can be cold on April mornings and HOT just a few short hours later. Have a hat or umbrella to shade you from the sun. WEAR PLENTY OF SUNSCREEN. Besides being painful and possibly leading to cancer, getting a sunburn will sap your energy.

Food –
There is usually a concession stand open with typical stadium food (soda, pizza,hotdogs) but you really may want to bring lighter snacks with you (trail mix, energy bars, bananas, grapes, orange slices, apples, water, gatorade). You need to keep your energy up but If you eat a burger right before you run a race … it tends to get ugly.

Recording your results –
At the larger Invitationals, there is usually some group being paid to record and then report the results of each heat, final and field event.
The coaches will be trying to keep track of your results as well but there are only 2 of them and 50+ athletes to keep up with. Hopefully we will have some parent volunteers who will help us keep write down our results.
It’s a good idea though, for each athlete to have a small notepad and pen in their track bag to write down their own results when their event is through.

Spare clothing –
Socks, underwear, t-shits ect .
If you step in a puddle when you get out of your car it is going to be a long day for you. If someone spills a coke in your lap when your sitting in the stands, it is going to be a long day for you. If you smash your PR in the 800 and set a new school record but the effort makes you puke on your shirt … it will be a proud but long day for you.
My experience is, if you will be prepared for such emergencies, they won’t even happen.
So throw some extra socks and a spare t-shirt in your track bag … and don’t wear your running shoes to the stadium. Change into them when you are warming up for your event. It’s a little extra effort to avoid a lot of extra stress.

This is an area of the rules that is now undergoing CHANGE.
Last Year, cameras and recording devices were pretty much universally banned in the competition areas of all HS and College track meets. Since it’s hard to tell what devices have which ability … they simply banned ALL electronic devices.
THIS YEAR however the rules are being “re-interpreted”. This will undoubtable lead to some needless controversy throughout the season. AS it stands now, COACHES are allowed to use video devices as long as the coaches are in an approved “coaches box” and AT NO TIME DURING THE SPECIFIC EVENT THEY ARE RECORDING, show that video to their athlete.
So – Coaches may video their athlete doing the long jump but that athlete may not see that video until after the long jump has been completed.
Bottom line for our student athletes – if you are in a field event and have a phone or camera or gameboy with you and want to avoid getting disqualified … LEAVE IT IN YOUR TRACK BAG and stay away from any coach or parent who is holding such a device!
At the smaller meets they will usually give you one warning but having these devices out is grounds for disqualification.
Parents who want to take pictures can usually come down “track-side” to do so but while the athlete is competing, they should stay well away from any cameras that may be set up.
There is no ruling against having electronic devices in the stands. There is also no one in the stands who has come to the meet strictly to keep an eye on your “stuff”. Just something to keep in mind when deciding what your going to bring to the meet with you.

Hurry up! Now wait.
There may be a lot of down-time for you while you are waiting for your event. Bring a book or cards or something to help keep you relaxed in the stands. While we do want everyone to be cheering on their team mates, there will be down time.

Sometimes schedules can get way behind. Very occasionally they can get a little ahead. So you need to stay aware of what’s going on. The PA announcer will be calling out when participants in each event need to go “check in”. You should find out before then, where the check in for your event should be. Don’t be off goofing around under the stands and miss your event.

Sometimes you will be in two events that are occurring at the same time. This usually occurs with field events. Don’t panic, this is common.
Just go to the official who is responsible for running the “check-in” for your event and let him or her know who you are and what is going on. They will make some sort of allowance for you to do what you need to do. It will still be your responsibility to get back to your event as soon as possible and let the official know who you are and that you have returned.

Represent Well.
While you are at the track meet you are representing not just yourself but Sparkman High School as well.
You will have a uniform on and this makes you and anything you do pretty well easily identifiable.
While there are many things in competition that you have no control over, your image and your character are completely in your hands.
Try to keep that in mind.