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Students battle elements in race for running titles (12 photos)

Hundreds of local students battled rain, mud and challenging course at today's Area Cross Country Running Championship at Mount St. Louis Resort

Hundreds of local elementary school students from Orillia and beyond battled the elements and a tough, hilly course as they competed in the Area Cross Country Running Championship at Mount St. Louis on Wednesday.

The event was the first large elementary school sporting event in over two years due to the pandemic.

The event began at 10:20 a.m. when the Grade 4 girls began their conquest of the challenging course that was made more difficult by sporadic rain, wet grass and lots of mud.

Every 20 minutes, a new group of students lined up for a mass start as female and male students in Grade 4-8 took their turns in a battle for local bragging rights.

Despite the inclement weather, many parents and relatives converged on the Oro-Medonte ski resort to cheer on the athletes. Often, when the tired youngsters turned the final corner toward the finish line, those cheers were like rocket fuel, pushing the athletes to turn on the after-burners as they approached the finish line.

The top finishers from today's event will advance to a Simcoe County regional championship later this month.