To clarify the madness in Huntsville yesterday since I haven't seen a comprehensive response yet:
It was the perfect storm (particularly in the boys race where the madness went 32 deep) for a number of reasons.
Whoever said an official took a wheel out there the night before, I was there until after dark and no official that worked the event with was doing so. Regardless...if you care only about measurements skip to midway through this.
1) The course is top notch. When plans were laid over 2 years ago, it was decided early that everything had to be top notch. The course, the irrigation, the grass, the grade of hills and slope of cambers...everything. The city developed something beyond even those expectations. The water for the course is also shut off for the week of to make sure it is dry. Even the Gulf South Conference that was held there a few weeks ago got some significant rain 3 days out and it drained perfectly (except for 50 meters in one area). With the intent that it will host NCAA meets (it is starting with D1 Regionals fall of 2021), it doesn't narrow to 10m wide until nearly half a mile in (approximately 730m).
The turns are incredibly gentle. There are no hairpins. They are like the turns constructed at INEOS where they intentionally don't cause you to slow. The elevation is a very slight uphill towards the end of the starting straightaway where people are still in high gear, from the start, significant net downhill until about 2k, gently rolling hills until the 2 mile (this is no Griak, Mt. SAC, or Terre Haute...think a nicer version of the rollercoaster hills in the first and last mile of Woodward Park), a nice big downhill heading into the "big hill" with about 1700 to go, and an even bigger net downhill from there to finish (which is flat with the starting straightaway). When I was out there while sod was getting laid 18 months ago, a few other coaches and the city crew and I looked at that downhill and turned to each other and said "oh my, this last mile is going to be nuts". It's a 248m uphill maxing at a 7% grade followed by much longer downhill at 3.5% grade that continues to drop until the turn before the finish. So yes, it was designed to be fast, have some character, be spectator and coach friendly, and handle fall Alabama environments well. The construction delivered. Fun fact: there is a 1.5 mi loop and a 2.15 mi loop of porous pave rubber compound that is 3ish meters wide winding through the facility (this is the black rubber that you see the athletes running over at 3 different points). The facility is amazing...I cannot wait until the finish arch gets built.
COURSE MEASUREMENTS. The officials and coaching coalition that helped with the course layout estimate that we have put a combined 50+ hours into measuring this and getting it perfect. That's not including the higher resolution the city has put into doing their own measuring. There are GIS pins in the ground every couple dozen meters throughout the 5k course to make sure we can always paint in the right spots. Wheels, GPS...everything has been used out here. Some of the earlier measurements from 2019 were a little off with wheels because the sod was fresh and lumpy in some areas that if you jogged it the wheel did a good bit of bouncing and not a good bit of rotating when it was off the ground. But now it's pretty perfect. There was no intent to make a course artificially fast by shortening it with all that the city invested into it. The original 5k (early fall 2019) was actually a good bit long because we would rather be able to shorten it to the actual length than be stuck with a short course and get trolled. Apparently you can get stuck with an actual 5k course and still get "schooled" by anonymous mathematicians that somehow convert 0.02 mi to 200 meters.
2) The Arcadia effect in the boys race. Every year we have awesomely silly number of young men break 9:00 under the lights at the Arcadia Invitational. In some years they even come from the Seeded Race prior to the Invitational Race. This is what happens when the pace is hot, there is a critical mass of exceptional athletes chasing, but also because the energy and expectation is "we're going to run crazy fast today!" That's what the talk between these guys has been for the last few weeks in anticipation, and Kamari it clear heading into the race that he was planning to fly. Everyone got carried along in the tidal wave that followed.
3) The energy was off the charts. The way the course is routed brings the athletes in close proximity to the central spectators area for the last 2 miles. It got loud, it stayed loud, and the athletes rode that wave of energy. The closest thing to how loud this was that I have ever heard in a high school event is Woodbridge (again, a place where silly things happen but it is certainly not a permanent course there, albeit a fun one to race). We literally had people in one of the lead gators waving their arms and telling the crowd to get loud. People were running around with bullhorns. It was incredible.
4) The weather was perfect until it started warming up about 15 minutes into the girls championship race. No wind. Surprisingly little humidity (about 50% relative humidity). Ground incredibly firm since there hasn't been rain in Huntsville in a little over a week. We were incredibly fortunate with the weather.
5) Kid's have raced less. While the physiological differences of racing and sharpening or not racing and resting can be debated for a while, at the end of the day high school athletes have been absolutely chomping at the bit to race against the best, and they got that this weekend without weeks and weeks of other postseason events. Everyone came in absolutely raring to go.
Jenna ran amazing. Very nice and humble young lady, quite unnecessary to comment on her appearance. Parker ran amazing. The hill in the last mile looked like a speed bump to him. Kamari Miller made that boys race by hammering from the get go. The fans were loud and energetic (even through masks!)