The Bull Run Invitational remains one of Maryland's most popular annual cross country meets, but the Hereford-hosted event will not take place this fall, school officials recently confirmed.
Bulls cross country coach John Roemer IV, co-director of the meet with school athletic director Mike Kalisz, said operating the event has required more time and effort in recent years because of its growth.
Roemer said the Bull Run Invitational featured 12 races last year, plus a reunion run in the middle of the day, with about 3,000 runners overall. The meet-related work occasionally took him away from his job as Hereford coach.
"It's just not fair to the kids because I have 120 runners, and the numbers are so big," he said. "It's just not fair to spend about a month at the beginning of the season preparing for and running the Bull Run."
The event had grown to include runners from Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Washington and even Kentucky, but Roemer said he and Kalisz decided at the end of last year to stop. They will look at restarting the event later, but for this year, it won't happen.
"People have actually been really, really surprised," Roemer said. "They really wish it wasn't taking a break. But they all seem to universally understand. I had no idea how significant it was to people's running."
The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association's state championships have been held at Hereford for many years. It's a challenging course to run and has been rated among the best in the nation over the years.
Century cross country coach Chris Mead said he enjoyed the event for what it taught his runners.
"The absence of Bull Run this year is going to be a significant one," Mead said. "A big part of running that course well is experience. Those who have never seen the course won't be afforded the opportunity to get a 'practice race' on it before toeing the line on the big stage."
Mead is curious to see how not getting a chance to run on the state championship course affects teams in this year's title races.
"Young teams, no matter how good, are at a significant disadvantage to more experienced teams that can tactically run the course and finish strong," Mead said. "It will be interesting to see how things pan out at [the] states with so many having never seen or raced on arguably the toughest course in Maryland."
Liberty coach Dan Jones said he was "heartbroken" over the decision to cancel the Bull Run Invitational.
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"Best course in the state, and the biggest and best meet in the state," he said. "I, personally, and my team … will miss having that great meet."