If you asked us two days ago our thoughts on the state meet moving to Oatlands we would tell you it stunk. To us there was so much history being thrown out and the allure of the Great Meadow (no "s") could not be touched. A lot of that opinion changed this weekend.
To be clear, Oatlands is not Great Meadow and vice a versa is the case as well. They are totally different venues and both offer a unique experience.
Aside from the spring 2021 meet, the XC State Meet had been held at Great Meadow since 1994. It hosted all classifications up until just a few years ago too. It really felt like a championship meet but part of that was baked into the fact that it was the same venue year after year. This is something we could see changing at Oatlands and Green Hill where they do grow to be more of the "state course" instead of the xx invitational course.
We could write at length about the pros and cons of the venue change but three things really turned our opinion on Oatlands as a state meet location.
First, having fans on the course was awesome. It is supposed to be a spectator friendly sport and when people respect the runners and course, it is an unparalleled championship atmosphere.
Second, the difference in terrain and scenery was actually pretty cool. This course had grassy meadows, woods, creeks, paths, and everything in between. It looked nice and minus the warm weather felt similar to what you'd think a state meet should look and feel like.
Finally, the course is actually really hard. We think this is awesome for the sport where the final race of the year should be the toughest course with the toughest competition. It makes things so much more interesting than purely chasing quicker times by cutting grass shorter or making the entire course downhill.
At Oatlands a runner has to earn their respect and honestly, Oatlands earned our respect this weekend.