The event is expected to draw about 3,000 youth runners from across the country to Tom Sawyer Park.
The Country School students and Madison residents 7th Grader Tillie, 5th Grader Liv, and 3rd Grader Lexie Killam of Madison are all Country School students and will be joined in Louisville by schoolmates 4th Grader Harper Merrill and 3rd Grader Luke Ouellet. All five are members of the Litchfield Track Club Racing Team and they set personal records in the qualifying competition in Lake George, NY, by finishing among the top 30 athletes in their age brackets.
When not running and racing, Tillie, Liv, and Lexie play lacrosse and field hockey, condition off-season through Ninja training, and play musical instruments. They are part of the girls XC team that last year won the Connecticut State XC Championship and this year joined the Country School boys’ team in taking second place, defeating most of the public and private schools in Connecticut.
Tillie, Liv, Lexie, Luke and Harper are part of The Country School’s successful running program that has sent more runners over the last decade to the National Junior Olympics (49), Connecticut Junior Olympics (149), and the Northeast Junior Olympics (132) than any other school in New England. The school’s optional cross country program begins in Kindergarten and has produced a national champion, a runner-up champion, and six All-Americans. Former Country School runners are racing at the high school and college levels, including varsity runners for such programs as Notre Dame and Holy Cross. Most are captains of their teams and, after having been recruited to colleges and universities, some have earned college scholarships.
The junior varsity and varsity and girls and boys are coached by three coaches. Their Head of School, John Fixx, son of Jim Fixx, the famous author who revolutionized running and road racing in the 1970s and 80s with the number one best selling book, The Complete Book of Running, and then its sequel, Jim Fixx’s Second Book of Running. Also coaching is history teacher and Director of Community Engagement Will McDonough. A gifted runner who still holds records throughout Vermont, Will captained his high school and Middlebury College’s teams. Impressively, Will has broken the 5:00 minute mile 22 years in a row. Rounding out the coaching team, is triathlete Adriana Castillo, the runners’ Spanish teacher, who brings her knowledge of pacing, training and recovery to her alert runners.
Where Premier running club coaches see their athletes maybe once a week and some communicate only by email and phone, Will, Adriana and John see their runners many times throughout the day on their small campus of 215 children from PreSchool-8th Grade. That proximity allows them as coaches to monitor the student-athletes’ moods, health, sleep patterns, recovery, and address any injuries or stress.
The goal of Country School’s cross country program is to have students learn to care for their health, enjoy the sport and team spirit, get faster as individuals, and eventually do their best running in high school, college and beyond. The coaches guard against runner burn-out and are always seeking that balance that pushes their athletes hard enough to gain satisfactory improvement but not to dread the sport. The kind of discipline and delayed gratification that cross country requires transfers well into the classroom, allowing students to push themselves to complete assignments, labs and papers even when fatigued.
Founded in 1955, The Country School serves students in PreSchool-Grade 8 on its 23-acre campus in Madison. The Country School honors students’ creativity, sense of wonder, and intellectual curiosity. The school’s integrated curriculum, successful athletics program, and robust arts program provide opportunities for character and leadership development.