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All-Comers Track Meets return to Bainbridge next week
Jim Whiting sure thought he would be running with a different crowd.
Whiting is the longtime runner and coach of the Blazers middle school cross country team who started the Bainbridge All-Comers Track Meets back in the early 1990s, soon after arriving on Bainbridge.
“I thought it would be fun to do an all-comers meet,” he said. “When I was in college I would have killed to have an all-comers meet in the summer.”
The venerable and cherished community competition resumes for its 18th season Monday, July 2 at the Bainbridge High School track. Start time is 6:30 p.m. and admission is free.
Ironically, the crowd of competitors the series attracts isn’t what Whiting had imagined earlier.
“I thought the idea would appeal to adults, to college students like I had been, and to high school kids,” he explained.
“That prediction is the reason why I’ve never won the lottery,” he joked.
Pretty much from the get-go, the all-comers meets have attracted the kids, the young ones.
Same as today, the shorter races were run by age and gender. But those early ones started with the 5 and under set. Turns out, that’s where many of the runners were.
“After a few years, I dropped it to 4 and under,” Whiting recalled. “And I thought, that’s it. I’m never going to go any lower.”
“It turned out the biggest group was actually kids who were 3 and less,” he said.
And the biggest still? That would be the 3 and under category for girls.
“One meet I counted the girls as they ran down the track and there were 36,” Whiting said.
The age range extends to runners in their seventies. Some all-comers meets have attracted more than 200 racers, and quite a few families bring picnic suppers and make an evening of the event.
Bainbridge Self Storage is the sponsor of the series.
“This is their sixth year,” Whiting said, “and they’ve been wonderful. Their sponsorship not only allows us to maintain the tradition of free entry but also pays for insurance, facility rental and other incidental expenses.”
Meet results will be published in the Review and on Whiting’s website, www.jimwhiting.com.
For additional information, contact Whiting at firstname.lastname@example.org.