BOURBON COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Since the 1970s, the Kentucky state cross-country meet has been held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. But this year, due to COVID-19, the meet is set to be held at a new property in Bourbon County on Friday and Saturday.
In the past year, Bourbon County purchased a 330-acre plot of land on Millersburg Road with dreams of building an athletic complex.
Bourbon County Judge-Executive Mike Williams explained the county has, "some pretty aggressive and goal-oriented plans over the coming years. We want it to be a location for competitive school sports, without question, but we also want it to be a location for passive recreation activities, walking trails."
Williams said they hope to bring an amphitheater, agricultural center for livestock and equine shows as well to the property.
"There's gonna be baseball there'll be soccer, there'll be cross country, we'll probably have Bourbon County shooting sports out here," Bourbon County Magistrate Drew Perrautt said. "We already had the FFA from Paris and Bourbon County growing crops, doing things like that. It's just a nice mission I really believe that any kind of organization that wants to be a part of this, we'd find a way to make them part of it and we have plenty of acres to do that. And if we don't need all of it, it's always an option to get rid of some of it."
Perrautt is also the Bourbon County High School cross country coach and was part of the team that brought the 2020 state meet to the county.
"COVID happened and we designed a cross country course that was one loop. And most of the time, people will run they will run the same loop twice and this time it's one loop and it just made it safer," Perrautt said. "Because they wouldn't cross each other."
He added that after a devastating track season in the spring due to the pandemic, "those seniors that had trained their entire career to go to state and they couldn't do it, it affect their scholarships, it affects where they're going to go for college it affects the rest of their life."
Therefore, Perrautt said it was a priority to find a way for kids to race competitively in the fall.
"There's been a lot of talk about how do we get all the fastest kids in the same heat? And we understand it, but I would still rather let these kids show what they can do one way or the other," he said. "Whether we can fit Bourbon County in the last heat to make us all run individually we'll do that just to be able to run."
Williams explained the county is working with the Health Department to make sure all who attend the meet will be safe.
"It'll be a very different kind of competition than in past years in the sense that, you know, teams will come, they'll run the race and they'll leave. It's not going to be one of those things where people are lingering around and gathering and congregating," Williams said. "And that's the guidelines that the CDC and also the local health department has given us to make sure people are safe. But there'll be several thousand people that will be here over the course of a couple of days, so that's great for Bourbon County. And we want to, we want to showcase the property we want to showcase our community."
In order to maintain CDC and KHSAA guidelines, all athletes will be required to wear a mask unless they are running their race. Spectators are limited to four per runner and also required to wear masks. The hosting volunteers will collect contract tracing information and admission will be collected electronically so there is no cash exchange. Everyone will also be required to have their temperature taken.
"There's a, a lot of prep that's gone into this to make sure ... that we don't have something where someone has to shut it down," Perrautt said. "We're just so excited to be able to have a meet and finish the season. We ran our first race here this season and we thought it might be the only one, because the way things were going so we're just so glad that we're making it to the end of the season and getting to compete."
To watch the meet virtually scheduled for Friday and Saturday, click here.