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It is Fall and that means football. Bands practicing, mum buying, homecoming parades, and Friday night is East Texas.

Let’s talk about the Saturday morning after. I mean getting up about four AM. Then on a school bus full of kids in running suits, getting off in a field where there are rolling hills, grass, dew and country smells. There are over seven hundred half-awake junior and senior high kids putting up tents, decorated with their school colors and sports hoopla. There are a bunch of parents and relatives also here looking for a cup of coffee to go with their morning burger doodle breakfast on a bun. This is an East Texas Cross Country Meet.

A typical course is between two and seven miles long on farm land and sometimes on roads. Canton is the Walking Capital of Texas and this course is fantabulous. The boys distance is a bit longer than the girls, and the junior high setup is a bit shorter than the senior high. There are medals for the fastest runners in each group and there are trophies for the top teams.

I have watched the Canton bunch of seniors since they stared back in junior high. I was there to watch this great crew grow up. Four or five of the girls were up for homecoming queen. When they were in junior high they believed they were better than the seniors. This present junior high bunch now believes they are better. All the coaches and the volunteers who dedicate their time and unbelievable talent to working yearlong with those seven hundred student athletes deserve our thanks

I write about health and wellness. Here is what I saw on that Saturday morning. Before each group started they all went out about twenty feet from the start and heard the rules, stepped back, a horn blew and the races begin. They are led by a four-wheeler. At major turns, volunteers and markers made the course ahead clear. A large crowd cheered as the runners cross the finish line, using their last batch of energy.

What happened next caught my attention. Every one of those runners started drinking a bottle of water. Water was being passed out by teammates, competitors, coaches, parents and strangers.

None of those kids were obese nor medically obese.

The health industry says that 70% of our US population is overweight or obese and over 30% is medically obese.


The cross country teams drink lots of water, eat a bunch of food and some of it is fresh or fast frozen fruit and veggies, and nuts. These teenagers exercise a lot and are consistent and focused. They don’t sleep enough. Someday they will get more sleep.

These remarkable teenagers are an inspiration. Thank you, coaches and volunteers for all that you do.